Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Crepidium marsupichilum

Pouched Spur Orchid

Crepidium marsupichilum (Upton) Szlach., Fragm. Flor. Geobot., Supp. 3: 129 (1995).

Malaxis marsupichila Upton, Orchadian 5(3): 32, f. (1976). Type: cult. Sydney, 16 May 1970, McIlwraith Range, North Queensland, Apr. 1969, J. Walker s.n. (holo NSW).


Occurs in the Northern Territory on Gunn Point north of Darwin. In far northern Queensland it is found on some Torres Strait islands, and on Cape York Peninsula, where it occurs on Iron Range and McIlwraith Range to the east, and near Weipa to the west.

Altitude: 5-500 m.

Also occurs in the Solomon Islands.


Terrestrial herb forming small colonies. Stems erect or reclining, conical, tapered, 5-12 cm x 1-2 cm, leafy in upper parts. Leaves 4-6, erect to prostrate, petiolate, bases sheathing stem; lamina ovate, 20-40 cm x 5-10 cm, light green, plicate, shiny, margins undulate, apex acute. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 200-500 mm tall, green and purple; peduncle 4-sided, alate; pedicels to 3 mm, including ovary. Flowers numerous, crowded, widely spreading, non-resupinate, porrect, 8 x 9 mm, purple, occasionally greenish. Dorsal sepal stiffly deflexed, narrowly ovate, 4.5-5.5 mm x 3 mm, apex obtuse. Lateral sepals divergent, asymmetrically ovate, 4-4.5 mm x 3.5 mm, apex recurved. Petals recurved, linear, 4-4.3 mm x 1.5 mm, apex obtuse to acute. Labellum unlobed, horseshoe-shaped, 5-6 mm x 4.5-5 mm, apex shortly obtuse; basal auricles incurved behind column, narrowly triangular; margins smooth. Column incurved, 1.5 mm long; 2 apical teeth extending marginally above anther. Column foot absent. Capsules erect, dehiscent.


Occurs in monsoonal rainforests and littoral rainforests, growing in shady conditions in moist sandy or clay soil covered with leaf litter. The plants are dormant throughout the drier months of the year, with the fleshy stems often covered by leaf litter. The growth of new stems commences with the summer rains. The small flowers do not self-pollinate and are believed to be splash-pollinated by falling raindrops.

Widespread and locally common.

Flowering period: January-April.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Malaxis marsupichila.

More about Crepidium