Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cirrhopetalum gracillimum

Wispy Umbrella Orchid

Cirrhopetalum gracillimum Rolfe, Kew Bull. 34 (1895); Bulbophyllum gracillimum (Rolfe) Rolfe, Kew Bull. 412 (1907). Type: Burmah?, T.R. Jarvis, J. OBrien and F. Horsman & Co s.n. (holo K).

Cirrhopetalum psittacoides Ridl., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 32: 280 (1896); Bulbophyllum psittacoides (Ridl.) J.J.Sm., Orch. Ambon 84 (1905). Type: Freshwater Isl., Singapore, H.N. Ridley s.n. (holo BM; iso BM, SING).

Cirrhopetalum leratii Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 9: 216 (1911); Bulbophyllum leratii (Schltr.) J.J.Sm., Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg. 28: 25 (1912). Type: New Caledonia, Mt. Dzumac, Le Rat s.n. (holo B).

Cirrhopetalum warianum Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 1: 890 (1913). Type: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: On trees in the forests near Adolfhafen, at the mouth of the Waria River, alt. c. 10 m, Apr. 1909, R. Schlechter 19215 (holo B; iso K).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on Janet Range, Iron Range and Tozer Range on Cape York Peninsula.

Altitude: 300-400 m.

Also found in Indonesia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Solomon Islands and Thailand.


Epiphytic herb forming small to medium-sized moderately dense clumps. Rhizomes creeping, appressed to host, branched, slender, 2 mm thick. Pseudobulbs widely spaced, erect, ovoid, 1-1.8 cm x 1-1.5 cm, dark olive green, with 4-5 prominent ridges. Leaf solitary on pseudobulb, erect, apical, shortly petiolate; lamina oblong to narrowly ovate, 5-8 cm x 3-3.5 cm, dark olive green, thick, leathery, apex emarginate. Inflorescence an axillary umbel, erect to arching, 150-250 mm long, wiry, from base of pseudobulb. Flowers 6-10, resupinate, porrect, in semi-circular umbel, each flower 30-50 mm x 5-8 mm, purplish red with a white or cream labellum. Dorsal sepal porrect, hooded, ovate, 3 x 2 mm, apex with erect filiform cilium 5-6 mm long, margins hairy. Lateral sepals deflexed, twisted, 'outer' margins fused near base to form a short synsepalum, 7-8 mm x 3-4 mm, bases fused to column foot; apices drawn into filiform tails 18-25 mm long. Petals drooping, triangular, 5-6 mm x 1 mm, hairy. Labellum unlobed, hinged to the apex of the column foot, porrect to decurved, 1.6-2 mm x 1 mm, fleshy, curved, grooved towards the base. Column at an angle to the ovary, 2 mm x 1 mm. Column foot at right-angles to the column, 2 mm long, apex uncinate. Capsules erect, dehiscent.


Grows on trees in stunted rainforests and in gallery forests along streams, usually in situations where there is an abundance of air movement.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: August-March.


This species is generally rare in Australia.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Bulbophyllum gracillimum. It was also known for a period in Australia by its synonym Cirrhopetalum leratii (Bulbophyllum leratii.

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