Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Pseudovanilla foliata

Giant Climbing Orchid

Pseudovanilla foliata (F.Muell.) Garay, Bot. Mus. Leafl. 30(4): 235 (1986).

Ledgeria foliata F.Muell., Fragm. 2: 167 (1861); Erythrorchis foliata (F.Muell.) F.Muell., Fragm. 2: 167 (1861); Galeola foliata (F.Muell.) F.Muell., Fragm. 8: 31 (1873). Type: In arboribus ad flumen Pine River Australian orientalis calidioris, A. Fitzalan s.n. (holo MEL).

Galeola ledgeriana F.Muell., Fragm. 11: 127, in obs. (1881), nom. illeg.

Galeola ledgeri Fitzg., Austral. orch. 2(2): [t. 4] (1885). Type: Macleay and Bellinger Rivers, Nov., R.D. Fitzgerald s.n. (holo not found; lectotype Fitzgerald’s plate), fide Clements (1989).

Galeola altissima F.Muell., Fragm. 7: 135 (1871), nom. illeg.

Galeola montigena Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 29 (1911). Type: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: In the forests of the Torricelli Range, in humus, alt. c. 800 m, Sep. 1909, R. Schlechter 20167 (holo B).


Occurs in Queensland from the McIlwraith Range to Kempsey in northern New South Wales.

Altitude: 0-600 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea.


Terrestrial herb forming very large climbing plants. Stems to 1500 cm long, erect, climbing, appressed to host, yellowish green, clinging by both unbranched and intricately branched roots. True leaves absent, stems instead with leaf-like bracts, ovate, 2-6 cm x 1-5 cm, at nodes, yellowish green. Inflorescence an axillary panicle 500-2000 mm long. Flowers 20-150, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 30-40 mm x 30-40 mm, golden yellow with orange-red and white labellum. Sepals and petals widely spreading, narrowly oblong to narrowly obovate, 15-25 mm x 4-5.5 mm, fleshy, brittle. Dorsal sepal incurved, apex acute. Lateral sepals free, divergent, falcate, apex obtuse. Petals spreading or obliquely erect, falcate, apex obtuse to acute. Labellum unlobed, projected forwards like a landing platform, 12-18 mm x 12-18 mm; base tubular; midlobe broad, with conspicuous crinkled margins. Callus of 2 raised ridges and numerous erect papillae. Column porrect, 10-15 mm long, curved in profile, dilated at the tip. Column foot absent. Capsules pendulous, cylindrical, 15-25 cm long, 15-25 mm wide.


Occurs in rainforests and sclerophyll forests. In sclerophyll forests is it found along stream banks and southerly slopes. The plants are saprophytic and typically reach a peak of vigour coinciding with the decay of fallen trees, after which they decline rapidly and die out when conditions are unsuitable. They are often conspicuous in the years following logging operations, roadworks and cyclones when many trees have fallen. The flowers last 1-2 days and have a pleasant honey fragrance.


Flowering period: November-January.

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