Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cheirostylis ovata

Banded Fleshy Jewel Orchid

Cheirostylis ovata (F.M.Bailey) Schltr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 45: 394 (1911).

Gastrodia ovata F.M.Bailey, Bot. Bull. Dept. Agric. Queensland 14: 13 (1896). Type: Mountain Range, near Cairns, L.J. Nugent s.n. (holo BRI not found).

Zeuxine attentuata R.S.Rogers & C.T.White, Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 32: 123-4, f. 2 (1921). Type: Queensland, Mackay, 13 Sep.1895, L.J. Nugent s.n. (holo BRI).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Iron Range to Eungella.

Altitude: 20-1000 m.


Terrestrial herb forming small colonies. Rhizomes above ground, prostrate, 7-12 mm wide, succulent, irregularly swollen, anchored by numerous short root hairs to substrate. Stem erect, 4-8 cm x 0.8-1.2 cm, fleshy. Leaves 3-7, prostrate, in loose rosette, whorled, apical, petiolate; lamina ovate, 2.5-5 cm x 1.2-2 cm wide, dark green with distinct pale median strip along midrib, apex acute; leaves often scenescent by flowering time. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, erect, 100-250 mm long, fleshy, brittle, hairy. Flowers 1-6, resupinate, porrect, tubular, opening freely, 10-14 mm x 8-10 mm, white. Sepals externally hairy, green or brownish, fused to form tube. Dorsal sepal porrect, hooded, ovate, 7-8 mm x 4-4.5 mm; forming galea with petals and proximally fused to synsepalum; hairy, apex acute to acuminate. Lateral sepals lanceolate, 7-8 mm x 4.5-5 mm; fused along inner margins to form synsepalum, and fused to proximal half of dorsal sepal; hairy, apices free. Petals divergent, erect, narrowly oblong, 7-8 mm x 2-2.5 mm, apex extending beyond dorsal sepal. Labellum conspicuous, exserted beyond sepals, 12.5-14 mm x 9 mm; base with 1-3 tiny lobed calli; apex divided into 2 oblong spreading lobes 6 mm x 4 mm with broadly dentate outer margins. Column curved forward, 1.5 mm long, with 2 elongate apical stylidia. Column foot absent. Capsules erect, hirsute, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests and moist woodlands, frequently growing in accumulated leaf litter around rocks, but also in loose soil or on roots and boulders. Plants are dormant and leafless during late spring and summer, often becoming covered in leaf litter. They produce new leaves with late summer rains, flowering in late winter and early spring.


Flowering period: August-October.

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