How to Cite

Dressler, R. L. (1979). THE SUBFAMILIES OF THE ORCHIDACEAE. Selbyana, 5(2), 197–206. Retrieved from


There have been a number of attempts to divide the Orchidaceae into major phyletic units, or subfamilies, but none of them has been wholly satisfactory. The many pariillelisms within the family make it difficult to delineate natural groups by simple key features. Further, in most systems some groups have been defined solely on the basis of one or two shared primitive features. The systems of Pfitzer (1887) and Schlechter (1926) were both rather artificial, and often inconsistent with the key features used. Garay (1960) has divided the family into five subfamilies, but his system is largely based on Schlechter's and retains most of its defects. Brieger (in Brieger, Maatsch & Senghas, 1970-1978 ff.) offers a rather different system of classification. This, too, is based on arbitrarily chosen unit features, and the features chosen are, in too many cases, discordant with the classification. In the present paper I will review some features ofspecial systematic importance, offer a revised subfamily classification, and provide valid names for a few taxa. These names are needed for a forthcoming book, in which the features and the classification discussed here are to be treated at greater length.


Open Access and Copyright Notice


Selbyana is committed to real and immediate open access for academic work. All of Selbyana's articles and reviews are free to access immediately upon publication. There are no author charges (APCs) prior to publication, and no charges for readers to download articles and reviews for their own scholarly use.  To facilitate this, Selbyana depends on the financial backing of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the hard work and dedication of its editorial team and advisory board, and the continuing support of its network of peer reviewers and partner institutions.

Authors are free to choose which open license they would like to use for their work. Our default license is the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0). While Selbyana’s articles can be copied by anyone for noncommercial purposes if proper credit is given, all materials are published under an open-access license with authors retaining full and permanent ownership of their work. The author grants Selbyana a perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish the work and to include it in other aggregations and indexes to achieve broader impact and visibility.

Authors are responsible for and required to ascertain that they are in possession of image rights for any and all photographs, illustrations, and figures included in their work or to obtain publication or reproduction rights from the rights holders. Contents of the journal will be registered with the Directory of Open Access Journals and similar repositories. Authors are encouraged to store their work elsewhere, for instance in institutional repositories or personal websites, including commercial sites such as, to increase circulation (see The Effects of Open Access).