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The origin and speciation of orchids

Pérez‐Escobar, Oscar A.; Bogarín, Diego; Przelomska, Natalia A. S.; Ackerman, James D.; Balbuena, Juan A.; Bellot, Sidonie; Bühlmann, Roland P.; Cabrera, Betsaida; Cano, Jose Aguilar; Charitonidou, Martha; Chomicki, Guillaume; Clements, Mark A.; Cribb, Phillip; Fernández, Melania; Flanagan, Nicola S.; Gravendeel, Barbara; Hágsater, Eric; Halley, John M.; Hu, Ai‐Qun; Jaramillo, Carlos; Mauad, Anna Victoria; Maurin, Olivier; Müntz, Robert; Leitch, Ilia J.; Li, Lan; Negrão, Raquel; Oses, Lizbeth; Phillips, Charlotte; Rincon, Milton; Salazar, Gerardo A.; Simpson, Lalita; Smidt, Eric; Solano‐Gomez, Rodolfo; Parra‐Sánchez, Edicson; Tremblay, Raymond L.; van den Berg, Cassio; Tamayo, Boris Stefan Villanueva; Zuluaga, Alejandro; Zuntini, Alexandre R.; Chase, Mark W.; Fay, Michael F.; Condamine, Fabien L.; Forest, Felix; Nargar, Katharina; Renner, Susanne S.; Baker, William J.; Antonelli, Alexandre

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Oscar A. Pérez‐Escobar

Diego Bogarín

Natalia A. S. Przelomska

James D. Ackerman

Juan A. Balbuena

Sidonie Bellot

Roland P. Bühlmann

Betsaida Cabrera

Jose Aguilar Cano

Martha Charitonidou

Mark A. Clements

Phillip Cribb

Melania Fernández

Nicola S. Flanagan

Barbara Gravendeel

Eric Hágsater

John M. Halley

Ai‐Qun Hu

Carlos Jaramillo

Anna Victoria Mauad

Olivier Maurin

Robert Müntz

Ilia J. Leitch

Lan Li

Raquel Negrão

Lizbeth Oses

Charlotte Phillips

Milton Rincon

Gerardo A. Salazar

Lalita Simpson

Eric Smidt

Rodolfo Solano‐Gomez

Edicson Parra‐Sánchez

Raymond L. Tremblay

Cassio van den Berg

Boris Stefan Villanueva Tamayo

Alejandro Zuluaga

Alexandre R. Zuntini

Mark W. Chase

Michael F. Fay

Fabien L. Condamine

Felix Forest

Katharina Nargar

Susanne S. Renner

William J. Baker

Alexandre Antonelli


Orchids constitute one of the most spectacular radiations of flowering plants. However, their origin, spread across the globe, and hotspots of speciation remain uncertain due to the lack of an up-to-date phylogeographic analysis.
We present a new Orchidaceae phylogeny based on combined high-throughput and Sanger sequencing data, covering all five subfamilies, 17/22 tribes, 40/49 subtribes, 285/736 genera, and c. 7% (1921) of the 29 524 accepted species, and use it to infer geographic range evolution, diversity, and speciation patterns by adding curated geographical distributions from the World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
The orchids' most recent common ancestor is inferred to have lived in Late Cretaceous Laurasia. The modern range of Apostasioideae, which comprises two genera with 16 species from India to northern Australia, is interpreted as relictual, similar to that of numerous other groups that went extinct at higher latitudes following the global climate cooling during the Oligocene. Despite their ancient origin, modern orchid species diversity mainly originated over the last 5 Ma, with the highest speciation rates in Panama and Costa Rica.
These results alter our understanding of the geographic origin of orchids, previously proposed as Australian, and pinpoint Central America as a region of recent, explosive speciation.


Pérez‐Escobar, O. A., Bogarín, D., Przelomska, N. A. S., Ackerman, J. D., Balbuena, J. A., Bellot, S., …Antonelli, A. (2024). The origin and speciation of orchids. New Phytologist, 242(2), 700-716.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 4, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2024
Publication Date 2024-04
Deposit Date May 16, 2024
Publicly Available Date May 16, 2024
Journal New Phytologist
Print ISSN 0028-646X
Electronic ISSN 1469-8137
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 242
Issue 2
Pages 700-716
Public URL


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