Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum semifuscum

Fragrant Tea Tree Orchid

Cepobaculum semifuscum (Rchb.f.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 486 (2002).

Dendrobium johannis var. semifuscum Rchb.f., Gard. Chron. 1883: 368 (1883); Dendrobium semifuscum (Rchb.f.) Lavarack & P.J.Cribb, Orchadian 6(9): 209 (1980). Type: cult. ex Australia, Queensland, W. Bull s.n. (holo W).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on Cape York Peninsula from Iron and McIlwraith Ranges to Cooktown.

Altitude: 50-550 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming slender erect clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs erect, fusiform, 30-50 cm x 1.5-2 cm, green, hard, furrowed with age. Leaves 3-7 per pseudobulb, erect to prostrate, apical; lamina linear to lanceolate, 10-20 cm x 1-1.5 cm, dark green, not channelled. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, 300-400 mm long from apical nodes. Flowers 3-12, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 20-30 mm x 25-40 mm, yellow to yellowish brown or greyish brown with darker stripes and tips, labellum mauve to purple with cream to pale yellow midlobe. Sepals and petals widely spreading, thick, shiny, strongly twisted. Dorsal sepal free, 20-25 mm x 4-6 mm. Lateral sepals 20-25 mm x 7-9 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 20-25 mm x 3-4 mm. Labellum projected forwards, shorter than dorsal sepal, 10-15 mm x 7-9 mm; lateral lobes erect, entire; midlobe much narrower than lateral lobes, curved with 3 prominent longitudinal ridges. Column foot 4-5 mm long, at right-angles to column or recurved. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in humid areas of open forests and woodlands, where they are often found growing in swampy areas and monsoonal thickets on rough-barked or paper-barked trees. The long-lasting flowers have a pleasant perfume and are pollinated by hornets and wasps.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: July-November.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium semifuscum.

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