Flickingeria clementsii

Epiphytes or lithophytes with very short or vestigial rhizomes anchored by branched roots that arise from basal nodes. Stems well developed, growing through the air, usually clustered, rootless, consisting of numerous nodes, each branch ending in a pseudobulb. Pseudobulbs widely spaced, relatively short, single-noded, becoming progressively smaller. Leaf solitary, from the apex of the pseudobulb, sessile, becoming progressively smaller, thin-textured, longer than wide, flat, with an unequally notched apex. Flowers produced in spasmodic bursts, arising individually from a perennial meristem(s) on the apex of the pseudobulb behind or in front of the leaf, but the flowers often maturing in groups as each meristem can produce more than one flower at a time. Each flower lasts 8-10 hours (rarely up to 20 hours), and has thin-textured flat segments. Dorsal sepal subsimilar to the lateral sepals. Lateral sepals bases partly fused with each other and with the column foot. Petals much narrower than the sepals. Labellum firmly attached directly to the apex of the column foot. Labellum lamina distinctly three-lobed; lateral lobes relatively small; midlobe with an apical cluster of spreading flexuose hair-like lobes. Callus consisting of low ridges or keels, often convolute.

Significant Generic Characters

Epiphytic/lithophytic orchids; rhizomes vestigial; roots from basal nodes only, branched; stems aerial, clustered, rootless, multi-noded, branched, each branch with a terminal pseudobulb; pseudobulbs widely spaced, single-noded; leaves lasting several seasons, solitary on each pseudobulb, sessile, thin-textured, longer than wide, flat; inflorescence short, perennial, occurring in the leaf axil and/or behind the leaf; flowers produced in spasmodic bursts, arising individually but the flowers often maturing in groups, lasting 8-10 hours (rarely up to 20 hours); perianth segments thin-textured flat; dorsal sepal subsimilar to the lateral sepals; lateral sepal bases partly fused with each other and with the column foot; petals much narrower than the sepals; labellum firmly attached to the apex of the column foot; lamina three-lobed; lateral lobes relatively small; midlobe with an apical cluster of spreading flexuose hair-like lobes; callus with low ridges.

Size and Distribution

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A genus of about 70 species occurring in tropical parts of Asia, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, Polynesia and northern Australia. The native species, Flickingeria clementsii, which is endemic, occurs in north-eastern Queensland between the Iron Range (1236' S) and the McIlwraith Range (1346' S) on Cape York Peninsula. State occurrence: Queensland, Western Australia (Christmas Island).

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In Australia, Flickingeria clementsii, grows in rainforest, mainly on trees, less commonly on rocks. The climate where it grows is tropical with the majority of rain falling during the summer wet season (December to March) and the remaining months being much drier with sporadic showers moving in from the coast.


Pollination: The flowers of Flickingeria clementsii last for 8-10 hours (rarely longer) and are insect-pollinated but the vector is unknown. 

Reproduction: Reproduction in Flickingeria is solely from seed. Seed dispersal takes 4-6 months after pollination and the capsules develop in a nodding position. Apomixis is unknown in the genus.

Seasonal Growth: The plants grow actively during the spring and summer months and are relatively quiescent for the remainder of the year.

Flowering: Flowering occurs in spasmodic bursts throughout the year.

Hybrids: Natural hybrids involving species of Flickingeria are unknown.


Flickingeria is named after Edward A. Flickinger, orchid grower and editor of some orchid journals.

Botanical Description

Perennial, evergreen, epiphytic herbs, sympodial. Roots elongate, branched, filamentous, produced from basal nodes. Rhizome short or vestigial. Stems well developed, aerial, rootless, branched, each branch with numerous nodes, terminating in a pseudobulb. Pseudobulbs well-developed, widely-spaced, 1-noded, hard, relatively short, becoming progressively smaller distally, when young covered by whitish scarious bracts. Trichomes absent. Aerial growths absent. Leaves lasting several seasons, solitary on a pseudobulb, sessile, longer than wide, thin textured, coriaceous, smooth, flat, not grooved or channelled, becoming progressively smaller distally; base not sheathing the pseudobulb; margins entire; apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence single-flowered, arising spasmodically from a perennial meristem(s) situated at the apex of a pseudobulb on either side of a leaf; each meristem can produce multiple flowers over time, the flowers often opening in groups. Peduncle absent.  Floral bracts scarious, sheathing the base of the pedicel. Pedicel very short, thin, merging with the ovary. Ovary short, straight or curved, porrect from the pedicel. Flowers resupinate, stalked, lasting 8-10 hours (sometimes to 20 hours), white or cream with yellow in the labellum; labellum without contrasting colours. Perianth segments thin-textured, widely spreading, entire, flat. Dorsal sepal free, subsimilar to the lateral sepals, straight; apex entire, flat.  Lateral sepals subsimilar to the dorsal sepal, straight, partly fused with each other and attached by their broad bases to the column foot; apex entire. Petals free, of similar length to the sepals but narrower; apex entire. Labellum stiffly attached to the apex of the column foot, markedly dissimilar in size and shape to the sepals and petals, ecalcarate. Labellum lamina relatively thin-textured, strongly three-lobed; lateral lobes relatively small, erect, entire; midlobe well-developed, extending past the lateral lobes, porrect; apex with 1-2 tufts of irregularly flexuose, thickish, hair-like lobes. Spur absent. Callus consisting of low ridges or keels, parallel or convolute, the outer two extending to the apex of the midlobe. Nectar present. Column lacking free filament and style, fleshy, shorter than the perianth segments, nearly straight. Column wings present, almost vestigial, ventral and sometimes with short tooth-like apical stelidia. Column foot well developed, longer than the column and at a steep angle with it, nearly straight. Pseudospur present, formed by the union of the anterior basal margin of the lateral sepals and the bases of the lateral sepals with the margins of the column foot. Anther terminal, incumbent, 2-celled, persistent, attached dorsally by a ligulate claw, smooth, rostrate; apex smooth. Pollinarium absent. Pollinia 4 in 2 pairs, straight or slightly falcate, yellow or orange, hard, waxy. Viscidium absent. Rostellum ventral, small, transverse. Stigma entire, concave. Capsules dehiscent, glabrous, cernuous; peduncle not elongated in fruit; pedicel not elongated in fruit. Seeds numerous, light coloured, winged.

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Flickingeria A.Hawkes, Orchid Weekly 2: 251 (1961). Type species: Desmotrichum angulatum Blume [Flickingeria angulata (Blume.) A.Hawkes].

Infrageneric Taxa: No infrageneric taxa are currently known.


Clements, M.A. & Jones, D.L. (2002). Nomenclatural changes in the Australian and New Zealand Bulbophyllinae and Eriinae (Orchidaceae). Orchadian 13(11): 498-501.

Dockrill, A.W. (1969). Australian Indigenous Orchids. Volume 1. The Society for Growing Australian Plants, Halstead Press, Sydney.

Dockrill, A.W. (1992). Australian Indigenous Orchids. Volume 1 & 2. Surrey Beatty & Sons in association with The Society for Growing Australian Plants, Chipping Norton, NSW.

Schlechter, R. (1982). The Orchidaceae of German New Guinea (English translation by R.S. Rogers, H.J. Katz and J.T. Simmons). Australian Orchid Foundation, Melbourne.