Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum johannis

Chocolate Tea Tree Orchid

Cepobaculum johannis (Rchb.f.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 486 (2002).

Dendrobium johannis Rchb.f., Gard. Chron. 1865: 890 (1865); Dendrobium undulatum var. johannis (Rchb.f.) F.M.Bailey, Syn. Queensl. fl. 509 (1883); Callista johannis (Rchb.f.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 655 (1891).Type: N. Australia, J.G. Veitch s.n. (holo W).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland from Cape York to McIlwraith Range.

Altitude: 50-600 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea and possibly Indonesia.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming slender erect clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs erect, fusiform, slender, 10-30 cm x 1-1.5 cm, often dark brown or purplish brown, hard, furrowed with age. Leaves 5-10 per pseudobulb, erect to prostrate, apical, distichous, sessile, bases sheathing pseudobulb; lamina lanceolate to ovate, 10-20 cm x 1.2-1.5 cm, dark green to purplish green, often with purple stripes, leathery, apex acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect to arching, 100-250 mm long, from apical nodes, purple towards apex; pedicels 20-25 mm long. Flowers 6-15, resupinate, erect to porrect, star-shaped, 25-45 mm x 20-40 mm, chocolate brown with bright yellow labellum. Sepals and petals widely spreading, thick, shiny, twisted. Dorsal sepal free, erect, ensiform, 20-25 mm x 4-5 mm. Lateral sepals 20-25 mm x 4-6 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 20-25 mm x 2-4 mm, twisted once or twice. Labellum shorter than dorsal sepal, 10-16 mm x 7-10 mm; lateral lobes erect; midlobe curved, with 3 prominent longitudinal ridges. Column 4-5 mm long. Column foot 5 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in open humid habitats, close to swamps, in pockets of monsoon forest, and on slopes in open woodlands. The flowers are long-lasting and have a strong unpleasant scent. Natural hybrids with other species of Cepobaculum have been observed in this species, as has hybridisation with Durabaculum species.

Locally common.

Flowering period: March-July.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium johannis.

More about Cepobaculum