A plate featuring Cypripedium acaule

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Subfamily: Apostasioideae

The subfamily Apostasioideae belongs to the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

It is a clade, but there is bootstrap support that it is a sister to the other orchid subfamilies. A bootstrap is a method for evaluating the statistical importance of positions of different branches in a phylogenetic tree (= a treelike structure giving the evolutionary development of organisms).

The apostasioid orchids are the most primitive orchids, with only two genera. Neuwiedia has 3 fertile, abaxial (= facing away from the stem) anthers, while Apostasia has two fertile abaxial anthers and a filamentous staminode (= a sterile stamen). Plants with mealy or paste-like pollen, which ordinarily are not aggregated into pellets, called pollinia, with two or three fertile long anthers, leaves with stealthing bases, elongated staminodium and labellum similar to the petals.

These primitive features make them, according to some authorities, not true orchids but rather ancestors of modern orchids. However, modern studies (Stern, Cheadle and Thorsch, 1993) point out that the apostasioid orchids are uniquely defined ( = autapomorphous). This makes them unsuitable as models to be the ancestors of the orchids.


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