The Dendrobiinae Lindl. comprises a diverse group of epiphytic, lithophytic and terrestrial herbs classified in six genera in current usage containing approximately 1150 species (Dressler 1993). Members of the Dendrobiinae vary considerably in their floral and vegetative morphology, especially in the southern part of their range, making them prime candidates for studies of character evolution.
The subtribe has already been the focus of a broad taxonomic study (Brieger 1981) and phylogenetic studies based on analysis
The subtribe Dendrobiinae was created in 1829, as a section within the tribe Malaxideae Lindl., accompanying the description and illustration of Dendrobium secundum (Blume) Lindl. in the Botanical Magazine (Lindley 1829). There after Lindley enumerated his concept of Dendrobiinae, embracing 20 genera and grouping them together on the possession of two, four or eight pollinia (Lindley 1830).
Dendrobium Sw. was grouped together with ten other genera including Aporum Blume, Macrostomium Blume, Bulbophyllum Thouars and Polystachya Hook. on account of the possession of four naked pollinia.
Most subsequent authors including Lindley (1851), Reichenbach (1861), Bentham (1881), Bentham and Hooker (1883), Pfitzer (1882, 1889), Schlechter (1905, 1912, 1926), Dressler and Dodson (1960) and Dressler (1972, 1979, 1981), have progressively narrowed the interpretation of the Dendrobiinae so that Dressler (1993), in his most recent classification of the family, recognised only six genera with approximately 1150 species within the subtribe, viz Cadetia Gaudich. (67 spp.), Dendrobium (c. 900 spp.), Diplocaulobium Kraenzl. (94 spp.), Epigeneium Gagnep. (12 spp.), Flickingeria A. Hawkes (70 spp.) and Pseuderia Schltr. (4 spp.).