Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Nervilia peltata

Grey Shield Orchid

Nervilia peltata B.Gray & D.L.Jones, Austrobaileya 4(2): 195-198, f.1 (1994). Type ‘Queensland: Cook District, cultivated Atherton ex Queensland, 2 km south of Cape York, 10°42’S, 142°32’E, Sm. alt., 11 Feb 1986, B. Gray 5287 (holo QRS).


Occurs in the northern parts of the Northern Territory and in north-eastern Queensland from Cape York to Hinchinbrook Island.

Altitude: 0-100 m.


Terrestrial herb forming clonal colonies. Sterile plants a solitary leaf only. Fertile plants initially a terminal inflorescence, a single leaf arising later from base of scape. Tubers solitary, fleshy, ovoid, 1-2 cm wide. Leaf solitary, apical, prostrate, ground-hugging, peltate, 2-4.5 cm wide, pale grey-green, granular, margins irregular. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 60-100 mm long, fleshy, green, brittle; peduncle elongating in fruit; pedicels 5-18 mm long, slender, not elongating in fruit. Flowers 1-3, non-resupinate, obliquely erect, star-shaped, 20-28 mm x 20-28 mm, pale green with white labellum. Dorsal sepal obliquely erect, narrowly obovate, 13-17 mm x 2-2.5 mm. Lateral sepals free, divergent, deflexed, linear to narrowly obovate, 13-17 mm x 2-3 mm. Petals spreading, narrowly oblanceolate, falcate, 11-15 mm x 2-2.5 mm. Labellum 12-15 mm x 5-6 mm, white, obscurely 3-lobed; lateral lobes narrow, erect, embracing ; midlobe broad, deeply and irregularly fringed, with 3 obscure ridges breaking up into small irregular calli. Column porrect from end of ovary, 7-8 cm long, wider towards apex; wings prominent. Column foot absent. Capsules pendulous, obovoid, 8-12 mm long, dehiscent.


Occurs in open forests, woodlands and monsoonal thickets growing in extensive colonies among grass. Plants are rarely seen in flower as each flower lasts for only about a day.

Widespread but localised.

Flowering period: December-February.

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