Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Oberonia carnosa

Rockpile Fairy Orchid

Oberonia carnosa Lavarack, Austrobaileya 1: 72-74, f. 6 (1977). Type: Cook District: Tozerís Gap, Cape York Peninsula, Aug.1975, P.S. Lavarack 991 (holo BRI; iso BRI).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland on Iron Range and McIlwraith Range.

Altitude: 300-700 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small erect clumps. Leaves 4-6, scattered along stem, erect, distichous, alternate, sessile, in fan-like array, bases sheathing stem, imbricate; lamina deltate to oblong, falcate, 1.5-2.5 cm x 0.5-0.8 cm wide, fleshy, light green to reddish, apex obtuse. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, arching or pendulous, 30-60 mm long, base with numerous whorled bracts; pedicels 1 mm long, including ovary. Flowers numerous, non-resupinate, porrect, 1.7 mm x 1 mm, orange to orange-brown. Sepals and petals spreading widely. Sepals free, strongly reflexed or recurved, ovate, 0.6 mm x 0.5 mm. Petals ovate, 0.9 mm x 0.5 mm, margins irregularly toothed. Labellum c. 1 mm x 0.6 mm, obscurely 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect; apex of midlobe and lateral lobes entire or toothed. Column erect, 0.4 mm long. Column foot absent. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Occurs in sparse scrub along stream banks and in small humid thickets growing on trees. It is also found growing on trees and boulders among piles of huge boulders (known locally as 'The Rockpiles'). The plants typically grow in high light situations and are sometimes exposed to full sun for significant part of the day. This is the smallest of the Australian Oberonia species.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: February-June.

More about Oberonia