Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cymbidium madidum

Giant Boat-Lip Orchid

Cymbidium madidum Lindl. in Edwards’s, Bot. Reg. 26: Misc. 34, [no. 6, pp 9-10] (1839). Type: cult. ex Australia (East Indies?), Rollinsons s.n. (holo K-LINDL).

Cymbidium iridifolium A.Cunn. in Edwards’s, Bot. Reg. 25: Misc. 34 (1839), non. Roxb. (1814). Type: On decayed trunks of trees in large masses, damp shaded woods on the Brisbane River, July 1828, A. Cunningham s.n. (holo K?).

Cymbidium albuciflorum F.Muell., Fragm. 1: 158 (1859). Type: Moreton Bay, W. Hill s.n. (holo MEL).

Cymbidium leai Rendle, J. Bot. 36: 221-2 (1898). Type: cult. ex Sonata, Queensland, 3 Sep. 1886, T.S. Lea s.n. (holo BM).

Cymbidium queenianum Klinge, Acta Horti petropolitani 17, fasc. 1: 137, t. 11, f. 13, 14 (1899). Type: Australia, Perisch s.n. (holo LE).

Cymbidium leroyi St.Cloud, North Queensland Naturalist 24(112): 3, f. (1955); Cymbidium madidum Lindl. var. leroyi (St.Cloud) Menninger, Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 30: 870 (1961). Type: cultivated Cairns and type locality, Jan 1955, ex Emmagen Creek north of Cape Tribulation, North Queensland, Dec 1954, C.G. LeRoy s.n. (holo QRS).


Occurs from Cape York in Queensland to the Hastings River near Wauchope in northern New South Wales.

Altitude: 20-1400 m.


Epiphytic and Terrestrial herb forming large bulky clumps. Pseudobulbs crowded, erect, ovoid, 12-25 cm x 4-6 cm, green, turgid. Leaves 4-8, erect to arching, scattered along pseudobulb, sessile; lamina linear to lorate, 30-90 cm x 3-4 cm, dark green, thin-textured, pliable, apex acute. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, arching to pendulous, 200-600 mm long, from base of pseudobulb. Flowers 10-70, resupinate, porrect to nodding, 22-35 mm x 20-30 mm, pale green to dark green or brownish green. Sepals and petals projected forwards, not widely spreading, thick-textured. Dorsal sepal narrowly obovate, 12-15 mm x 5-6 mm, apex acute. Lateral sepals free, similar to dorsal sepal, 12-15 mm x 5-6 mm. Petals narrowly obovate, 10-13 mm x 4-5 mm, apex recurved, acute. Labellum 12-15 mm x 5-6 mm, 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect, crescent-shaped; midlobe projected forward, usually yellow, upper margins often upcurved, with single broad shiny ridge. Column slightly incurved, 8-10 mm long. Column foot absent. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests, swamps and open forests in high rainfall areas where it grows on trees with thick fibrous bark, particularly paperbarks. It can also be found growing on rocks, boulders and cliff faces, and as a terrestrial orchid, in the sandy soils of littoral rainforest. The plants can become very large, forming clumps reaching more than 2 m across. The flowers are numerous and are sweetly scented.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: August-February.

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