Cymbidium canaliculatum R.Br., Prod. 331 (1810). Type: (T.) v.v. [Tropical Queensland; Broad Sound, Sep. 1803, R. Brown s.n.] (lectotype BM), fide Clements (1989); Syntypes: (T.) v.v. [East Coast Dryander’s land, R. Brown s.n.] (BM, E, K).
Cymbidium hillii F.Muell., Garten Flora 28: 138-9 (1879). Type: cult. Brisbane Botanic Gardens ex In coastal forest Mulgrave Mountains, North Queensland, W. Hill s.n. (holo MEL not found).
Cymbidium sparkesii Rendle, J. Bot. 36: 221 (1898); Cymbidium canaliculatum R.Br. var. sparkesii (Rendle) Bailey, Compr. cat. Queensland pl. 845 (1909). Type: cult. London, 26 Apr., 1909, J. Sparkes ex North-east Queensland, A.O. Jones s.n. (holo BM).
Cymbidium canaliculatum var. canaliculatum forma inconstans Rupp, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 59: 98-9 (1934), nom. inval.
Cymbidium canaliculatum var. canaliculatum forma aureolum Rupp, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 59: 99, t. 3, f. 8 (1934). Type: Pilliga, N.S.W, Oct. 1932, H.M.R. Rupp s.n. (holo NSW).
Cymbidium canaliculatum var. marginatum Rupp, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 59: 99 (1934).
Cymbidium canaliculatum var. marginatum forma fuscum Rupp, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 59: 99 (1934). Type: Cairns, north Queensland, 1933, W.F. Tierney s.n. (holo NSW).
Cymbidium canaliculatum var. barrettii Nicholls, Austral. Orchid Rev. 7: 40 (1942). Type: Groote Eyland, Northern Territory, C. Barrett s.n. (holo MEL).
Occurs in the Kimberley region of Western Australia; in the Northern Territory on Melville Island and the northern parts of the mainland; throughout Queensland; and in northern New South Wales to the Hunter River.
Altitude: 5-900 m.
Epiphytic herb forming dense clumps. Pseudobulbs erect, ovoid, 8-12 cm x 3-4 cm, grey-green to green, base with stiff papery bracts. Leaves 2-6, erect, scattered along pseudobulb, distichous, alternate, sessile; lamina ensiform to lanceolate, curved, 30-50 cm x 3-4 cm, pale green to grey-green, deeply channelled, thick, rigid, fleshy, apex acute. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect to pendulous, from the base of pseudobulb, 20-40 cm long, erect to pendulous. Flowers 5-60, spreading widely, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, variable in size, 25-45 mm x 20-40 mm, fragrant, variable in colour (pale green, brown, purple, dull red, dark reddish black), often blotched or striped and in various combinations. Dorsal sepal erect, oblong, 15-25 mm x 7-10 mm, apex acute. Lateral sepals free, divergent, oblong, 15-25 mm x 7-10 mm, apex acute. Petals obliquely erect, ovate, 13-22 mm x 5-9 mm, apex acute. Labellum 15-20 mm x 8-10 mm, usually white with red markings, 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect, obtuse; midlobe decurved, upper surface warty or hairy, with 2 hairy ridges. Column incurved, 7-10 mm long. Column foot rudimentary. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.
Occurs predominantly in open sclerophyll forests and woodlands, and in the tropics often on trees by the sea, especially in the Northern Territory. It also survives in patches invaded by rainforest and in monsoon thickets, and extends along the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and adjacent inland plains, where conditions are drier. The plants have an extensive root and rhizome system which extends deep into decaying heartwood in the host tree, and may reappear from other hollows metres away from original clump. Plants flower profusely and the flowers are fragrant and extremely variable in flower colour and floral patterns.
Widespread and common.
Flowering period: September-October.