The name of this genus comes from the Greek verb "enkykleomai" (to encircle), referring to the lateral lobes of the lip, which encircle the gynostemium.
Encyclia is a genus with about 150 species distributed throughout Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and other areas of tropical America. They are epiphytic species, occurring in lowland forests up to an elevation of 1,000 meters. Most species in this genus are found in forests with dry seasons. Humidity is usually high year-round in these forests, despite low rainfall.
Most species have stiff, drought-resistant leaves and large onion-shaped pseudobulbs. The flowers arise from an apical inflorescence. This genus is pollinated by bees and birds. Usually there are eight clumps of pollen, but in some subgroups only four. One species, Encyclia cyperifolia, produces cylindrical, conical leaves.