Heterotaxis sessilis (Sw.) F.Barros

False Butterfly Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Dicrypta baueri, Epidendrum sessile, Maxillaria crassifolia

Heterotaxis sessilis, the False Butterfly Orchid or Hidden Orchid, is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean and Mexico and occurs in the Fakahatchee Swamp in south Florida. The growth habitat is pendulous, with the orchid hanging downward from fibrous roots attached to trunks and large branches of trees. Plants can reach a length of 30 cm. Leaves are thick and leathery, forming a fan-shaped array above the small, flattened pseudobulbs. The single, yellow flower emerges from the folded base of the leaves in autumn and flowering may continue through January. This orchid often grows on hammocks, rocks, and tree trunks in cypress swamps.

Heterotaxis sessilis is endangered in Florida although it is apparently secure across its broad range.


This orchid is autogamous but the yellow and red flowers produce trichomes that are collected by the meliponine bees which may also pollinate the flowers.

Ecosystem Type

Swamps, woodlands


Number of leaves on stem:
  • six
  • seven or more
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence has one flower or a pair of flowers
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is lobed
Labellum length:
12–15 mm
Sepal length:
Up to 15 mm
Plant height:
Up to 30 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Apparently Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data