Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Vappodes phalaenopsis

Cooktown Orchid

Vappodes phalaenopsis (Fitzg.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 492 (2002).

Dendrobium phalaenopsis Fitzg., Gard. Chron. (ser. 2) 14: 38 (1880). Type: cult. Balmain, Sydney, Broomfield ex near Cooktown, Queensland, Apr., Broomfield s.n. (holo BM); Dendrobium bigibbum var. phalaenopsis (Fitzg.) F.M.Bailey, Syn. Queensl. fl. 509 (1883); Callista phalaenopsis (Fitzg.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 655 (1891).

Dendrobium bigibbum var. superbum Hort. ex Rchb.f., Gard. Chron., (new ser.),10: 748 (1878). Type: cult. Chelsea, J.G. Veitch & Sons ex Queensland, Oct. 1878, J.C. Veitch s.n. (holo W).

Dendrobium bigibbum var. macranthum F.M.Bailey, Bot. Bull. Dept. Agric. Queensland 10: 24 (1895). Type: cult. Bowen Park, Brisbane, May 1895, ex Geraldton (Innisfail, Johnstone River on label), [A.O. Jones s.n.] (holo BRI).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Cooktown to Font Hills west of Mount Molloy.

Altitude: 5-400 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming medium-sized slender clumps. Pseudobulbs erect, cylindrical, 20-120 cm x 1-1.5 cm, green or purplish. Leaves 3-5 scattered along upper third of pseudobulb, erect to prostrate, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing pseudobulb; lamina narrowly ovate to elliptic, 10-15 cm x 3-3.5 cm, green, often with purplish margins. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 20-40 cm long. Flowers 2-20, resupinate, porrect, 25-30 mm x 50-70 mm, usually lilac-purple, rarely white, bluish or pinkish, with darker purple labellum lacking white spot. Sepals and petals widely spreading. Dorsal sepal 25-30 mm x 9-11 mm. Lateral sepals 20-25 mm x 9-11 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 25-30 mm x 25-30 mm. Labellum 24 mm x 20 mm, dark purple, 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect, veined; midlobe decurved, with hairy patch and 4-5 ridges, without white spot. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in coastal scrub, littoral rainforests, riverine vegetation, monsoon thickets, vine thickets, swamps and gullies in open forest. Plants grow on trees and rocks and rapidly recolonise disturbed sites.

Locally common.

Flowering period: March-July.

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