Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Coelandria smillieae

Bottlebrush Orchid

Coelandria smillieae (F.Muell.) Fitzg., Austral. Orch. 1(7): t. 2 (1882).

Dendrobium smillieae F.Muell., Fragm. 6: 94 (1867); Callista smillieae (F.Muell.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 655 (1891); Pedilonum smillieae (F.Muell.) Rauschert, Feddes Repert. 94: 464 (1983). Type: Type: In silvis montium ad sinum Rockinghami [Rockingham Bay], J. Dallachy s.n. (holo MEL 625942; isolecto K, MEL 625940).

Dendrobium ophioglossum Rchb.f., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 15: 113 (1876); Dendrobium smillieae F.Muell. var. ophioglossum (Rchb.f.) F.M.Bailey, Syn. Queensl. fl. 510 (1883); Callista ophioglossa (Rchb.f.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 655 (1891); Pedilonum ophioglossum (Rchb.f.) Brieger, Schlechter Die Orchideen 3(1): 679 (1981). Type: Australia, [Queensland], Cape York, Sep. 1874, Moseley s.n. (lecto K; isolecto W 41225).

Dendrobium hollrungii Kraenzl. in K. Schum. & Hollrung, Fl. Kais. Wilh. Land. 32 (1889); Pedilonum hollrungii (Kraenzl.) Rauschert, Feddes Repert. 94: 460 (1983). Type: Kaiser Wilhelms Land, [Sepik R.], II Augusta-Station [Augusta R.], Sep. 1886 or 1887, Hollrung 699 (lecto HBG; isolecto BM, HBG, K).

Dendrobium kaernbachii Kraenzl., Oesterr. Bot. Z. 44: 163 (1894). Type: Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land, probably at Kelana, L. Kaernbach s.n. (not located).

Dendrobium hollrungii var. australiense Rendle, J. Bot. 37: 339 (1899); Dendrobium smillieae var. hollrungii (Kraenzl.) J.J.Sm., Nova Guinea 12(4): 338 (1916). Type: cult. Ewhurst, Surrey, May 1899, 9 May 1899, J. Sparkes ex Geraldton, Johnstone River, N.E. Queensland, A.O. Jones s.n. (holo BM; iso K).

Dendrobium secundum var. urvillei Finet, Bull. Soc. Bot. France 50: 380-381, t. 14 (1903). Type: Archipel Papou, Waigheou Waigeo I.), [Bay of Offack, 6-15 Sep. 1823], Dumont d'Urville s.n. [C 31-38] (holo P), fide Dauncey (2003).

Dendrobium pachyceras auct. non. F.Muell. & Kraenzl.; Kranzl. in Engl., Pflanzenr. Orch.-Mon.-Dendr. 1: 98 (1910), pro parte.


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on some Torres Strait islands, and from Cape York to Townsville.

Altitude: 5-700 m.

Also found in Indonesia and New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming tall clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs crowded, erect, fusiform, 30-100 cm x 2-3 cm, spongy, ribbed, green to yelllowish, leafy for first year, then bare. Leaves scattered along stem, erect to prostrate, distichous, alternate, sessile, base sheathing pseudobulb; lamina oblong to lanceolate, 15-20 cm x 3-4 cm, bright green, thin-textured, often twisted, apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, 8-15 cm long, condensed and bottlebrush-like, from upper nodes of mature defoliated pseudobulb; shortly pedicellate. Flowers numerous, non-resupinate, porrect to nodding, semi-tubular, 20-25 mm long, white, greenish, cream or pink with dark green shiny labellum apex. Sepals and petals not widely spreading, thick-textured, apices obtuse to acute. Dorsal sepal free, ovate or oblong, 8-10 mm x 4 mm. Lateral sepals divergent, oblong, 7-9 mm x 5-6 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals divergent, spathulate, 8-10 mm x 3 mm. Labellum unlobed, 16 mm x 3-4 mm, fleshy, tightly embracing column; basal part hollow with transverse ridge forming nectary; apical part broad, dark green, shiny. Column 3-4 mm long. Column foot straight, broader at apex, 6-9 mm long, in line with column. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs most often in tropical lowlands but also extends into the ranges at moderate altitudes. It is found in open forests, woodlands, monsoonal thickets and swamps, and along rainforest margins, growing on trees. Less commonly it can be found growing on rocks and boulders. The flowers are pollinated by the Yellow Honeyeater, known locally as Bush Canary (Lichenostomus flavus). These birds can be seen hovering in front of the flowers as they drink the nectar.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: August-November.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium smillieae.

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