Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Oxysepala schilleriana

Red Rope Orchid

Oxysepala schilleriana (Rchb.f.) D.L.Jones & M.A.Clem., Orchadian 13(11): 500 (2002).

Bulbophyllum schillerianum Rchb.f. in Otto, Hamb. Garten 16: 423 (1860). Type: [without locality], Schiller s.n. (holo W).

Bulbophyllum aurantiacum F.Muell., Fragm. 3: 39 (1862); Dendrobium aurantiacum (F.Muell.) F.Muell., Fragm. 7: 98 (1870); Phyllorchis aurantiacum (F.Muell.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 677 (1891). Type: On trees and alternative creeks near Moreton Bay, W. Hill s.n. (holo MEL).

Dendrobium shepherdii var. platyphyllumF.Muell., Fragm. 5: 209 (1866). Type: In truncis et rupibus ad originen fluvii Crocodile Creek Australiae orientalis tropicae, Bowman s.n. (holo K).

Bulbophyllum aurantiacum var. wattsii F.M.Bailey, Queensland Agric. J. 31: 192, t. 126 (1913). Type: On trees, Herberton District, W.W. Watts s.n. (lectotype BRI), fide Clements (1989); Syntype: Fresh water Creek near Cairns, Aug. 1894, L.J. Nugent s.n. (BRI not found).


Occurs in eastern Queensland and New South Wales between Big Tableland south of Cooktown and the Hunter River near Newcastle, New South Wales.

Altitude: 100-1250 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming pendulous clumps. Stems sparsely branched, pendulous, 10-30 cm long, sheathed in greyish bracts. Pseudobulbs widely spaced, appressed to stem, ovoid to cylindrical, 5-8 mm x 3-4 mm, yellow-green to dark green. Leaf solitary on pseudobulb, erect to pendulous, sessile, bases not sheathing pseudobulb; lamina ovate to oblong, 3-10 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, thin to thick-textured, fleshy, pale green to dark green, broadly and shallowly grooved. Inflorescence axillary, in clusters of up to 10, each single-flowered, erect, from perennial meristem at base of pseudobulb; pedicels 3-4 mm long. Flowers resupinate, erect to nodding, tubular, 4-7 mm x 2-3 mm, red or orange with a cream or white base, waxy. Sepals and petals not spreading widely, obtuse. Dorsal sepal obliquely erect, 4-7 mm x 1-2 mm. Lateral sepals decurved, 4-7 mm x 1-2 mm, inner margins basally fused, bases fused to column foot. Petals porrect, narrowly ovate, 2 mm x 1.5 mm. Labellum unlobed, hinged to the apex of the column foot, ovate-lanceolate, 2 mm x 1 mm, curved, reddish brown, margins hairy. Column at an angle to the ovary, 1.5 mm long, with long narrow wings and 2 stelidia extending above anther. Column foot at an acute angle with the ovary, 2 mm long, curved. Capsules porrect to erect.


Occurs in rainforests, gallery forests, and swamps growing on rocks and trees. It also grows on relict trees in cleared paddocks.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: April to August.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Bulbophyllum schillerianum. Bulbophyllum aurantiacum is an early synonym that is still sometimes used.

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