Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Luisia atacta

Smooth Velvet Orchid

Luisia atacta D.L.Jones, Austral. Orchid. Res. 5: 84, f.3.15 (21 Dec. 2006). Type: Queensland. Mulingar, 4 Dec. 2001, B. Gray 7919 (holo QRS 122619).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland on some Torres Strait islands and from Cape York to the Daintree River.

Altitude: 0-200 m.

Probably also occurs in New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming straggling or tangled clumps. Stems erect to semi-pendulous, 10-40 cm long, wiry. Leaves 2-10, scattered along stem, widely spaced, erect to pendulous, distichous, sessile, bases sheathing stem; lamina terete, 5-20 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm wide, dark green, often with blackish markings, rigid, apex acute to mucronate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, short, 5-15 mm long, emerging opposite a leaf, persistent, flowering repeatedly and extending with age, swollen at apex, with numerous overlapping hairless bracts; pedicels short, incurved, thick. Flowers 1-3, resupinate, erect to nodding or recurved, 7-8 mm x 9-11 mm, green with dark burgundy labellum. Sepals and petals glabrous, usually not opening widely. Dorsal sepal incurved, hooded, ovate, 5 mm x 3.5 mm, apex obtuse. Lateral sepals broadly ovate to broadly oblong, 5 mm x 4 mm, apex cymbiform. Petals incurved, narrowly oblong, 8 mm x 2.5 mm. Labellum 6.5 mm x 5.5 mm, projected forwards, smooth, with 2 basal flanges flanking column, narrowed before expanding into thick fleshy cordate blade. Column 4 mm long, porrect from end of ovary. Capsules erect, oblong to ellipsoid, 35-40 mm long, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests, humid coastal scrub and mangroves, often growing on trees with scaly or papery bark. Young plants have an erect habit, but older clumps often become straggly and semi-pendulous as they elongate.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: November-April.

Name Changes

Until recently confused with Luisia teretifolia, which is from Guam.

More about Luisia