why aren't there african slippers?

Slippertalk Orchid Forum

Help Support Slippertalk Orchid Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


some call me brian
Jun 7, 2006
Reaction score
Cape Cod
i was thinking about this the other day or was it night?
anyways, between Cyps, Paphs, Phrags and Selenipediums, there are slippers on all the continents, well, except africa and australia. can anyone tell me why and dumb it down a bit as i ain't so good with some scientific stuff...
i think it all goes back to pangea and gondwanaland, who knows. ....go to that new multi million dollar creation museum where they have dinosaurs living with adam and eve and maybe they can tell you :rollhappy:
but not morphologically or genetically, right?
(did i use those terms right? i meant flower structure (well, more like Paphs, Phrags and Cyps than they're both orchids) and very closely related (perhaps that's considered subfamily?))
Australia actually has a very close slipper relative: an Apostasia (from the subfamily Apostasioideae which forms a stable clade with the Cypripedioideae).

As for the the lack of slippers in Australia and Africa, I doubt you could pin down a single reason. There are many factors... Too arid, too low humidity, perhaps the geography at the time made it impossible.

This is a fun topic... I love phytogeographics!
NYEric said:
I'll check w/ the time machine. No actually, the closest thing to slippers from Africa are Disas.

yeah, where is Mr. Peabody anyways? :rollhappy:
kentuckiense said:
Too arid, too low humidity

Africa has some pretty darn humid tropical rainforests, although dwinding in size at an unimaginable rate.

kentuckiense said:
perhaps the geography at the time made it impossible.

I think the past geography may be the best answer to this question. If there was a way to prove it, I would bet a large sum of money that there were slipper-type orchids on Africa, but have since become extinct.
cdub said:
Africa has some pretty darn humid tropical rainforests, although dwinding in size at an unimaginable rate.

Yes, they do, but at the moment (and a chunk of time into the past, I'd imagine) they are isolated from slipper orchid areas of Europe and Asia by thousands of miles of desert via the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula. However, that could be a recent phenomenon, and I'd agree that Africa probably had 'em at some point.
In the "vague but true" corner of my brain,

The slippers, Cypripedioideae, became a distinct group some 100+ million years ago. I believe both Africa and Australia had already separated from the super-continent Pangea by that time. Yet at that time Asia-Europe-North+South America were still connected in the fragment of Pangea called Gondowanaland.

My guess is they just didn't get established there. Let's intoduce them into the wild. Africa needs some invasives like Paphs
Actually, Africa in general does not have too many orchids as compared to the other continents...there's Disa, Aeranthes, Polystachya, Ansellia,and others, but overall, compared to tropical Asia and S. America, really lacking...Take care, Eric

Latest posts