Cymbidium bicolor Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl. 164 1833.;
Two-Colored Cymbidium;


09042005VAI1 – Orchid for ID:
Unidentified orchid

Location: Makunda Christian Hospital campus, Karimganj District, Assam
Date: 9th April 2005
Equipment: Nikon D70 with Nikkor AF 28-105mm

–  this is Cymbidium bicolor

09042005VAI2 – Orchid for ID:
Unidentified orchid

Location: Makunda Christian Hospital campus, Karimganj District, Assam
Date: 9th April 2005
Equipment: Nikon D70 with Nikkor AF 28-105mm

–  This is also Cymbidium bicolor.


Location- Place, Altitude, GPS-  Maredumilli, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh
Habitat- Garden/ Urban/ Wild/ Type- Wild, moist deciduous forests in Eastern Ghats
Plant Habit- Tree/ Shrub/ Climber/ Herb-  Epiphyte
Leaves Type/ Shape/ Size- long, strap-shaped
Inflorescence Type/ Size- as seen in the photos
Flowers Size/ Colour/ Calyx/ Bracts- Cream edges, maroon center
Fruits Type/ Shape/ Size Seeds
Occurance- second most common orchid here, only next to Acampe praemorsa

Yes this looks to me like Cymbidium bicolor.

.. just a question, Why not Cymbidium aloifolium?

Cymbidium aloifolium has dark band on the petals and sepal which is absent In bicolor.

Even these photo shows band?
please help in id, i am confused with both species

There has been lot of confusion on this. But the original description of Cymbidium is based on a sketch in Hortus Malabaricus which has dark bands but somehow it got mixed up with C. bicolor.
Now it is believed that C. bicolor is without prominent bands and C. aloifolium is with bands.
I dont have good picture of C. aloifolium but attaching on of my bicolor and two pics from internet.
Hope this helps. First one is bicolor.

There is no confusion, if you add these with foliar and fruit characters. Moreoever second and third pic are very distinct.

even these are confusing!!!


Orchid for identification 220412MK01:

Please help me to identify the Orchid found in a tree trunk at about 7 metres high. Could this be Rhynchostylis sp.? The location is at the bank of a seasonal stream which was dry during the summer. The host tree is Terminalia arjuna.
Date: first week of March 2012
Location: near Masinagudi, Nilgiris dist., TN
Altitude: c. 800 M ASL
The leaves were of about 20cm long.

This should be Cymbidium bicolor. Please show flowers to confirm.

Very strange there are so many floral stalks but no fruit!!! Thats a bad news!!

This is the time when it flowers.


22/04/2012/YRP/01/Wayanad, Kerala.:
could someone identify this orchid please?


021111PD06 Cymbidium bicolor Flora of Orissa:
sharing another epiphytic Orchid from Ranpur Orissa

Name of the species: Cymbidium bicolor
Place of collection: Ranpur, Nayagarh, orissa
Habit: Epiphyte
Habitat: Moist deciduous forests
Altitude: 300 m above msl

Lovely … Here in Kerala it is usually aloifolium that is found at lower altitudes.

Yes we have also C. aloefolium in lower altitudes. I wl definitely share them in the group.

I had seen this herb on a tree trunk.  (Cymbidium sp)
Date / Time: 19-12-2010 / 01:15PM
Location: Elephanta Beach, Havelock, Andaman & Nicobar
Habitat: Wild
Plant Habit: Herb,

Most likely Cymbidium bicolor.


ORCHIDACEAE Juss. Fortnight: Cymbidium bicolor Lindl. from Jharkhand, PKS-131 : Attachments (1). 3 posts by 3 authors.

Cymbidium bicolor Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 164 (1833).
Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Is., W. & C. Malesia

This beautiful epiphyte was shot from way to Darjeeling from Pelling…
Please help to conclude id..
Can this be Cymbidium bicolor…?

This is interesting.

There are two groups of people. One who thinks that a dark and complete band on petals and sepals from one end to other is Cymbidium aloifolium (leaves are narrower too) and the plant in this pic is Cymbidium bicolor (leaves are broader). Others believe the other way around.
The original illustration in Hortus Malabaricus of C. aloifolium has dark band.
So I will agree with the identification of this plant as Cymbidium bicolor.

Another beautiful set. All your Orchid posts are really very beautiful.
OMJUNE01 : 5 posts by 2 authors.
IS this Cymbidium bicolor or Cymbidium aloifolium??
An epiphytic orchid, with long strap like leathery leaves hanging down. Flowers in pendolous racemes, about two feet long rachis.
Also how do u differenciate between C.bicolor and C.aloifolium?

I think these pictures are from Sikkim. …, Pl. confirm
efi pages on Cymbidium bicolor & Cymbidium aloifolium

yes sikkim, dzongu district. sorry in forgot to mention the place

So this is Cymbidium bicolor??

it is Cymbidium aloifolium not bicolor

Is it still Cymbidium aloifolium in view of another thread ?

No this is not Cymbidium aloifolium. I need to see the leaves to confirm which species this is. May be Cymbidium bicolor.

Looks like cymbidium simulans Rolfe which is now synonymous under C. aloifolium

There has been lot of confision between aloifolium and bicolor. Some say that bicolor is with dark line on the sepals and petals while other say that it is aloifolium with dark line. Originally Cymbidium aloifoium has been described based on drawing in Hortus Mlabaricus which shows a clear line on the petals and sepals and hence if synonymous, this should be under bicolor.

No way near to bicolor.

Show me a bicolor you know and let me recheck 🙂

A reply from …, BSI who revised Genus Cymbidium very recently:
Excellent photographs… This is Cymbidium aloifolium very common species.  Thank you for sharing the images.

I have no comments to make. If BSI has done it then it is wrong. There is another book on Cymbidum by Phillip Cribb which is also wrong. This was a mistake made long time back and it was follwed there after.
I know what this is and if the sender can share the images of leaves then I can confirm.

There is what I call a true Cymbidium aloifolium on the link

MS May, 2017/19 Orchidaceae for ID : 7 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (1)

Location : Tamdil, Mizoram
Date : 27-05-2017

Habit : epiphytic orchid
Habitat : Wild

Same Cymbidium. Attachments (1)

Same orchid. Attachments (1)

I would say this is Cymbidium aloifolium if you follow the kew checklist but I think this is Cymbidium bicolor. There is lot of confusion between these two. People in northeast say that it is Cymbidium pendulum which according to kew checklist is synonym of Cymbidium aloifolium.


Cymbidium aloifolium (L.) Sw. ?? : 5 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (3)
Location: Singtam, Darjeeling, India
Date: 22 May  2017
Altitude: 1800 ft.
I find some difference between C. aloifolium and C. bicolor in FOI.

My explanation remains the same. This should be Cymbidium bicolor.

Cymbidium aloifolium (L.) Sw. ?? : 7 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (3)
Location: Singtam, Darjeeling, India
Date: 22 May  2017
Altitude: 1800 ft.
I find some difference between C. aloifolium and C. bicolor in FOI.

My explanation remains the same. This should be Cymbidium bicolor.

I think your plant is Cymbidium bicolor.
Thanks a lot for the links and one of the link is my pic only 🙂
Secondly, I would like to say that your active participation and sharing of tonnes of flora pics from Nepal is really commendable. Please keep it up.

MS June, 2018/01 Cymbidium sp. for ID : 4 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2)
Location : Lengpui, Mizoram
Date : 01-06-2018
Habit : Epiphytic orchid
Habitat : Wild

I would say, Cymbidium bicolor.


Orchidaceae fortnight :: Hybrid 5 :: SMP 26 : 2 images. 5 posts by 4 authors.
This may not be hybrid. Possible Cymbidium aloifolium or Cymbidium bicolor, depending on what you believe.

Aren’t they different species? Could you elaborate please?

Yes both aloifolium and bicolor are different species. The one without band was long known to be aloifolium and bicolor as the one with bands. But then someone pointed out that aloifolium name was derived from the description in Hortus Malabaricus where the flowers have band and hence the nomenclature should be other way around.
Some people accept, where as others don’t

I always get confused between these two!

This should be Cymbidium bicolor.


Cymbidium bicolor:
I am a bit confused about the ID of this sp.

There is a a bit of confusion because Cylbidium some species of cymbidium comes from hortus malabaricus where the petals and sepals have dark band in aloifolium. However, people didnt agree to it. So there are two groups now, one who believes the plant with band is bicolor while other believes the plant with band is aloifolium.


Cymbidium aloifolium (L.) Sw.: 6 high res. images.

Location:  Shubhakuna, Surkhet, West Nepal 
Date: 30 May 2023
Elevation 600 m.

Habit : Wild

Nepali Name : हरजोर Harajor

Very pretty. Either Cymbidium aloifolium or Cymbidium bicolor. I will go for latter.

C. bicolor has got no distribution for Nepal !

No, the species has been misidentified for a long. Some believe that aloifolium has dark brown-black bands on the petals and sepals, and leaves are narrower, while bicolor has very faint bands on petals and sepals and leaves are broader.

Depends on which concept you follow.

OK …  We had an earlier discussion about this. Just have a look

Yes sir. Yes this is another name, Cymbidium crassifolium. I believe there are some issues regarding identification. bicolor var. bicolor was described from India and then there was bicolor var. obtusum and var. pubescens. I imagine how come all three varieties are in India.

As I said in some other conversation, Kew checklist of POWO do not contain words from GOD! They do have mistakes, or may be they are right and there is something I am unable to understand.

This is a little write-up I had done a long time back. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the nomenclature of C.bicolor and C.aloifolium which I have made an attempt to analyze in this blog and in the comments. Please feel free to take a look.


Thank you … for additional information. However, it is always confusing for me

between these two species.

Presently I think the classification is made based on the labellum pattern. C.aloifolium has stripes while C.bicolor has blotches on the labellum. The subspecies of bicolor have different flower shapes. I will post a few pictures from Du Puy later.

Comparison of species with belt like leaves
1 high res. image.

7 high res. images.

Yes, it is! Cymbidium alifoliumaccording to the lip structure…,

Thank you … for the details. Long time no see doc.

I am not criticizing you and as I said before who follows whose concept is their choice. Secondly, no people at Kew do make mistakes too. There are around 80,000 orchid names but only around 30,000 are accepted. I am sure more than 1/2 of the orchid names were given by someone at some point of time associated with Kew.
But please remember, what you are talking about is the concept of Du Puy and Cribb and not the original concept. In the same book, C. bicolor var. pubescens and var. obtusum comes as a sister to other species and a bit away from aloifolium on page 61. They may need to go back and correct that first or explain why they are not sisters to each other. Strangely, on page 122 they include the name Epidendrum aloides  (attached here) under the synonymy of C. aloifolium (see plate below). This former species was described with a very good illustration, which doesnt match with the illustration Du Puy and Cribb provided. So how to trust their treatment.
The original concept of Cymbidium aloifolium came from Hortus Malabaricus written by Van Rheede in 1669. It was named ‘Kansjiram marvara‘ and has an illustration of the plant, t. 8, and a description on page 17.
This was used by Linne (1753) in giving the binomial name Epidendrum aloifolium. In the original drawing, there is a drawing of the lip, which looks smaller than the column or slightly longer. Even the side lobes of the lip are shorter than the column. I do agree that Van Rheede’s illustration (attached here) is not a perfect one, but it is what it is. Imagine, everyone (Du Puy and Cribb; Seth; Seidenfaden etc……. there is a long list) says that the side lobe is longer than the column in C. aloifolium, but it is shorter in Van Rheedes’s drawing which is the type for this name. WHO WILL YOU ACCEPT? In one of the pages shared by Prejith, there are line drawings of both species. You can see in bicolor the length of side lobes of labellum is shorter than the column, but that matches with aloifolium instead, no?
Later in 1799 Swartz gave the name Cymbidium aloifolium to this plant.
I would say, can you measure the width of the broadest and the narrowest leaf and tell me the dimensions?
Rest I would say, the name of this plant is based on your concept of the name. The West is not always right. Sometimes, we need to stand up and study ourselves. Please do not follow someone without understanding the truth.
This is not to criticize anyone. We always come to this discussion on this species and I always walk on the other side of the road, alone, because I am a taxonomist and I do taxonomy following the proper processes involved.
Du Puy and Cribb’s plate below:

3 attachments

I agree on this with you. My blog also mentions the same. I just posted Du Puy & Cribbs’ version because I didn’t want to sound biased. Linnaeus’ Epidendrum aloifolium was based on Rheede’s Kansjiram Maravara and anyone who visits the type locality can easily see which plant Rheede was referring to (it is so common here). Secondly I understand that the authors from Kew never visited the type locality, instead choosing to visit Sri Lanka to make their observations of the species which blocks out the entire perspective for them and puts them at a disadvantage in decision making. In simple words they never walked along the path that Van Rheede took and for that primal reason they are wrong. But unfortunately what they have created is a huge mess not because it just involves interchanging the name of two species but because they have included two other species as subspecies under one of the entities. Hoya ovalifolia from the Hortus is another mess, but that I guess is a story for another day.

Both species are found in the Malabar region and where exactly the type collected from is not known. But yes it would be a good idea to have a look around.

There were many such issues in the past as I know of them and in many other groups. But very few Indian botanists have even tried to rectify these, instead, they just followed their predecessors. I will talk about two such issues related to Indian orchids in my next article. I have yet to touch Cymbidium. Too much work but no job and no money to sit and work peacefully.

Only one is common … The other, namely the one this discussion is based upon is extremely rare. I have never seen it in the wild and possibly grows at higher elevations. I have only seen a collected specimen growing on a tree in a British bungalow in Mattancherry.

Is this Cymbidium crassifolium Herb. ??

crassifolium is subsp. obtusum. Could you look at the key? They differentiated pubescens from obtusum (=crassifolium) on the basis of sidelobes being acute,  scape strongly pendulous in pubescens and side lobes obtuse or subacute and scape arching to pendulous in obtusum.

Below is the holotype of pubescens and you will see scape arching to pendulous and the side loves are 100% acute in the illustration.

Below is the type of obtusum (=crassifolium. You can see side lobes are acute.
If I compare these two I can see the labellum is shorter in obtusum, leaves are wider and seems the petals and sepals are lacking black stripes. This grou is confusing and in my opinion there are only two species aloifolium and bicolor and rest should be merged under the two.
To have a proper conclusion i need to see plants in hand.