Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum trilamellatum

Large Tea Tree Orchid

Cepobaculum trilamellatum (J.J.Sm.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 486 (2002).

Dendrobium trilamellatum J.J.Sm., Bull. Dept. Agric. neerl. 19: 21 (1908); Nova Guinea 8: 69-70, t. 24, 76 (1909). Types: Dutch New Guinea [Irian Jaya]; Merauke, Jan. 1901, Jaheri s.n. (syn BO); between Geelvink Bay and MacCluer Gulf, 1906, W. den Berger s.n. (syn BO).


Occurs on Melville Island and Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory. In Queensland it is found on some islands in the Torres Strait and from Cape York to the McIlwraith Range.

Altitude: 50-300 m.

Also found in New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming slender erect clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs erect, fusiform, 30-60 cm x 2-2.5 cm, green. Leaves 3-7 per pseudobulb, erect to prostrate, apical; lamina linear to lanceolate, 10-25 cm x 1-1.5 cm, green, leathery, not channelled. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, 300-500 mm long, from apical nodes. Flowers 6-15, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 35-55 mm x 40-60 mm, brown with darker stripes and tips, centre often yellowish, labellum mauve to purple with yellow midlobe. Sepals and petals thick, shiny, strongly twisted. Dorsal sepal free, 20-30 mm x 4-7 mm. Lateral sepals 20-30 mm x 7-9 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 25-35 mm x 3-6 mm. Labellum 15-22 mm x 8-14 mm; lateral lobes erect, entire; midlobe as wide or wider than the lateral lobes, broadly triangular, curved, with 3 prominent longitudinal ridges that extend well onto the midlobe. Column 4-5 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in open forests and woodlands, near streams and in swamps, often close to the coast. It is usually found growing on rough-barked and paper-barked trees. The long-lasting flowers have a pleasant perfume and are pollinated by wasps and hornets.

Locally common.

Flowering period: July-November

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium trilamellatum.

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