Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum tattonianum

Onionbulb Orchid, Southern Tea Tree Orchid

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

Dendrobium tattonianum Bateman ex Rchb.f., Gard. Dendrobium Chron. 1865: 890 (1865); Bot. Mag. 91: t. 5537 (1865); Dendrobium canaliculatum var. tattonianum (Bateman ex Rchb.f.) Rchb.f., Xenia Orchid. 2: 165, t. 169, III (1870); Callista tattonianum (Rchb.f.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 655 (1891). Type: cult. Lord Egerton of Tatton, ex N. Australia, J.G. Veitch s.n. (holo W; iso K).


Occurs in Queensland from Laura to Rockhampton.

Altitude: 5-1000 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small to medium-sized clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs crowded, erect, conical to fusiform, 3-12 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, pale green to yellowish. Leaves 2-6 per pseudobulb, erect, apical; lamina terete, 8-20 cm x 0.4-0.8 cm wide, green, deeply channelled, fleshy, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, 100-300 mm long, from apical nodes. Flowers 5-50, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 15-20 mm x 22-30 mm, white with yellow or brown tips. Sepals and petals widely spreading, apices twisted. Dorsal sepal free, 10-16 mm x 2-3 mm. Lateral sepals 10-18 mm x 2-3 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 12-18 mm x 2-2.5 mm. Labellum 10-12 mm x 5-6 mm, white with purple streaks and suffusions; lateral lobes narrow, erect; midlobe 4-5 mm wide, apiculate, with 3 longitudinal ridges which break up into series of small crests. Column 3-4 mm long. Column foot 4-5 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in stunted forests, swamps and woodlands dominated by broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca viridiflora). The long-lasting flowers are showy and pleasantly fragrant.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: July-September.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium tattonianum.

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