Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Plectorrhiza brevilabris

Small Tangle Orchid

Plectorrhiza brevilabris (F.Muell.) Dockrill, Austral. Sarcanth. 28, t. 12 (1967).

Cleisostoma brevilabre F.Muell., Fragm. 11: 87 (1880); Sarcochilus brevilabris (F.Muell.) F.Muell., Syst. census Austral. pl. 1: 111 (1882); Sarcochilus brevilabris (F.Muell.) F.M.Bailey, Syn. Queensl. fl. 520 (1883), nom. illeg.; Saccolabium brevilabre (F.Muell.) Rupp, Victorian Naturalist 57: 219 (1941). Type: In monte Dryandri [Mount Dryandra near Proserpine, Queensland], E. Fitzalan s.n. (holo MEL).

Saccolabium loaderianum Rupp, North Queensland Naturalist 20 (101): 17 (1952). Type: cult. Castlecrag, 15 Dec.1951, N. Loader ex Bambaroo, 60 miles N. of Townsville, Queensland, July 1951, A. Johnson s.n. (holo NSW).


Occurs in Queensland from McIlwraith Range to the Noosa River.

Altitude: 0-1300 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming straggling clumps. Plants usually consisting of single main growth with coarse wiry roots. Stem erect to pendulous, 10-50 cm long, flattened. Leaves 3-9, scattered along stem, crowded, prostrate to pendulous, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing stem; lamina elliptic to narrowly ovate, 5-8 cm x 1-1.5 cm, dark green, apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, 60-180 mm long, pendulous or spreading, thin, zig-zagged; pedicels 4-6 mm long, including ovary. Flowers 3-20, resupinate, porrect to nodding, star-shaped, 12-15 mm x 8-10 mm, green with reddish brown central patches on sepals and petals, white frontal patch on labellum. Sepals and petals widely spreading. Dorsal sepal hooded, obovate, 3-4 mm x 2 mm. Lateral sepals free, widely spreading, narrowly oblong to almost spathulate, 5-7 mm x 1-1.5 mm. Petals ovate to spathulate, 4-5 mm x 2 mm. Labellum 6-7 mm x 3-3.5 mm, green and white, 3-lobed; lateral lobes 1 mm x 1.5 mm, curved outwards; midlobe short, fleshy; spur conspicuous, 7 mm long, curved, white. Column 3 mm long. Column foot 1 mm long, in line with column. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests, growing on shrubs and small trees and sometimes on the twigs of large trees. In the tropics it is confined to the ranges and tablelands, whereas in the southerly range of its distribution it is found in lowland forest.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: November-February.

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