DNA barcoding has been proposed to be one of the most promising tools for accurate and rapid identification of taxa. However, few publications have evaluated the efficiency of DNA barcoding for the large genera of flowering plants. Dendrobium, one of the largest genera of flowering plants, contains many species that are important in horticulture, medicine and biodiversity conservation. Besides, Dendrobium is a notoriously difficult group to identify. DNA barcoding was expected to be a supplementary means for species identification, conservation and future studies in Dendrobium. We assessed the power of 11 candidate barcodes on the basis of 1,698 accessions of 184 Dendrobium species obtained primarily from mainland Asia. Our results indicated that five single barcodes, i.e., ITS, ITS2, matK, rbcL and trnH-psbA, can be easily amplified and sequenced with the currently established primers. Four barcodes, ITS, ITS2, ITS+matK, and ITS2+matK, have distinct barcoding gaps. ITS+matK was the optimal barcode based on all evaluation methods. Furthermore, the efficiency of ITS+matK was verified in four other large genera including Ficus, Lysimachia, Paphiopedilum, and Pedicularis in this study. Therefore, we tentatively recommend the combination of ITS+ matK as a core DNA barcode for large flowering plant genera.