Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Rhomboda polygonoides

Velvet Jewel Orchid

Rhomboda polygonoides (F.Muell.) Ormerod, Orchadian 11(7): 333 (1995).

Goodyera polygonoides F.Muell., Fragm. 8: 29 (1873); Orchiodes polygonoides (F.Muell) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 675 (1891); Etaeria polygonoides (F.Muell.) Dockrill, Austral. Pl. 3: 350, f. (1966); Hetaeria polygonoides (F.Muell.) Dockrill, Austral. Pl. 3: 350-351 (1966); Zeuxine polygonoides (F.Muell.) P.J.Cribb in M.A.Clem., Austral. Orch. Res. 1: 147-148 (1989). Type: In summitate montis Macallisteri prope polygonoides F.Muell Rockingham’s Bay, J. Dallachy s.n. (holo MEL).

Zeuxine novae-hiberniae Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 86 (1912). Type: Neu-Mecklenburg [New Ireland]: In humus in the mountain forests near Punam, alt. c. 600 m, July 1902, R. Schlechter 14695 (holo B; iso K).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Daintree River to Paluma.

Altitude: 200-800 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.


Terrestrial herb forming loose colonies. Stems erect, 5-10 cm x 0.4 cm wide, fleshy. Leaves 5-9, scattered along stem, prostrate, larger leaves forming a loose rosette toward apex, petiolate, bases sheathing stem; lamina narrowly ovate, 5-8 cm x 1.5-2 cm, purplish green or bronzed with broad central white stripe, velvety, apex acute. Inflorescence a terminal spike, erect, 100-200 mm long, sparsely hairy, fleshy. Flowers 5-14, resupinate, erect, 5-6 mm x 6-7 mm, on elongate sessile ovaries, green and white. Dorsal sepal projected forward, hooded, forming galea with petals, obovate, 4-4.5 mm x 3-3.5 mm, green. Lateral sepals free, widely divergent, nearly horizontal, oblong to narrowly ovate, 4.5-5 mm x 3 mm, green, apices apiculate, sparsely hairy. Petals asymmetric, elliptic, 4.5 mm x 2 mm, translucent white. Labellum deeply concave, 5-5.5 mm x 2-2.5 mm, margins overlapping, sharply constricted near apex; basal pouch with 2 finger-shaped glands. Column 1 mm long, with large wings, 1 mm wide. Column foot absent. Capsules erect, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests in shady moist situations and in litter on large boulders adjacent to streams. Its leaves are highly ornate.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: June-August.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Hetaeria polygonoides and Zeuxine polygoniodes.

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