Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Aporopsis macfarlanei

Coastal Shaggy Orchid

Aporopsis macfarlanei (F.Muell.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 485 (2002).

Aporopsis litoralis (Schltr.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 485 (2002). Dendrobium litorale Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 567 (1912); Ceraia litoralis (Schltr.) M.A.Clem., Telopea 10(1): 292 (2003). Types: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: On trees at the beach of Morowe (Adolfhafen), alt. c. 10 m, Apr. 1909, R. Schlechter 19214 (syn B); On trees at the mouth of the Waria [River], alt. c. 15 m, July 1909, R. Schlechter 19958 (syn B).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland on Dauan Island in Torres Strait.

Altitude: 0-50 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea and possibly in Indonesia.


Epiphytic or lithophytic orchid forrming untidy straggly clumps. Stems erect to pendulous, flattened, freely branching, tapering towards the apex, 30-60 cm x 5-10 mm at widest section, 1-3 mm wide in upper leafy section, green to greyish green, upper nodes producing aerial growths. Leaves scattered along stems, erect, distichous, sessile, bases sheathing stem, covering nodes; lamina narrowly ovate, 3-6 cm x 0.4-0.8 cm wide, dark green, laterally flattened, fleshy, apex acuminate. Inflorescence perennial; leafless stem apex forming a terminal raceme, flowers arising singly in succession from nodes. Flowers 1-3, resupinate, porrect, 10-15 mm x 10-12 mm, pale greenish cream, sometimes with red stripes, flowering sequentially, each flower lasting 3-4 days. Dorsal sepal free, narrowly triangular, 4-5.5 mm x 3.5-4 mm, apex acute to cymbiform. Lateral sepals more or less triangular, 8-10 mm x 4-5 mm, bases fused to column foot, apex cymbiform. Petals narrowly oblong, 4-5 mm x 1.5-2 mm, apex obtuse to acute. Labellum decurved, obovate, 10-12 mm x 7-10 mm; lateral lobes obtuse, midlobe deeply emarginate with 2 broad obtuse lobes and 3 indistinct keels. Column 1-1.5 mm long. Column foot curved, much longer than column, 8-10 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in lowland rainforests and beach scrubs, growing on trees and rocks. It grows in warm, humid conditions, needing high light levels and free air movement. Plants reproduce freely from side shoots with aerial roots. These are persistent, often producing aerial shoots themselves, and leading to tangled clumps of aerial growths hanging from plants. Flowers are produced at sporadic intervals following heavy rain, borne on the upper leafless parts of the stem and pollinated by insects.

Locally common.

Flowering period: Sporadic throughout the year.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium litorale.

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