Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum foelschei

Thin Tea Tree Orchid

Cepobaculum foelschei (F.Muell.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 486 (2002).

Dendrobium foelschei F.Muell., S. Sci. Rec. 2: 230 (1882); Callista foelschei (F.Muell.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 654 (1891); Dendrobium canaliculatum R. Br. var. foelschei (F.Muell.) Rupp & T.E.Hunt, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 72: 240 (1948). Type: Port Darwin, 1882, P. Foelsche s.n. (holo MEL; iso K, W).


Occurs across tropical northern Australia, found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, in the northern reaches of the Northern Territory, and in Queensland, on some Torres Strait islands and on Cape York Peninsula, north of the Wenlock River.

Altitude: 0-200 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small to medium-sized clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs erect, conical or fusiform, 5-12 cm x 1-2 cm, yellowish. Leaves 2-6 per pseudobulb, erect, apical, sessile; lamina terete, 8-18 cm x 0.4-0.8 cm wide, green, deeply channelled, fleshy, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect to arching, 100-250 mm long, from apical nodes. Flowers 5-40, resupinate, porrect to nodding, star-shaped, though often cupped, 15-23 mm x 22-36 mm, white with yellow or tan tips. Dorsal sepal free, 8-13 mm x 2-3 mm. Lateral sepals 8-13 mm x 2-3 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals linear, falcate, 12-18 mm x 2-2.5 mm, erect, tips twisted. Labellum 10-14 mm x 5-6 mm, white with purple streaks; lateral lobes narrow; midlobe 1-2 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, sharply pointed, with 3 large crested ridges. Column 3-4 mm long. Column foot 4-5 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in lowland and coastal regions, close to swamps, billabongs and streams. It is also found in stunted forests and in scrub close to the beach, often growing on paperbarks and freshwater mangrove (Barringtonia acutangula). The flowers are long-lasting and fragrant, pollinated by wasps and hornets. During dry years plants can lose all their leaves. Natural hybridisation with Vappodes dicupha has been observed.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: July-September.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium canaliculatum var. foelschei.

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