Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Sarcochilus falcatus

Orange Blossom Orchid

Sarcochilus falcatus R.Br., Prod. 332 (1810); Thrixspermum falcatum (R.Br.) Rchb.f., Xenia Orchid. 2: 122 (1874). Type: (J.) v.v. [Port Jackson; harbour, Patersons, Williams River or Newcastle, 1804, R. Brown s.n.] (lectotype specimen (a) BM), fide Clements (1989); Syntypes: (J.) v.v. [Port Jackson; harbour, Patersons, Williams River or Newcastle, 1804, R. Brown s.n.] (BM, E, K, K-LINDL).

Sarcochilus montanus Fitzg., Austral. orch. 1(5): [t. 3] (1879); Sarcochilus falcatus var. montanus (Fitzg.) C.Moore & Betche, Handb. fl. N.S.W. 387 (1893). Type: Mt. Wilson, Mt. Tomah, Mt. Banda-banda and the mountains at the head of the Bellinger, Nov., R.D. Fitzgerald s.n. (syn not found; lectotype Fitzgerald’s plate CANB), fide Clements (1989).


Occurs from Mount Finnigan in north-eastern Queensland to eastern Victoria.

Altitude: 100-1400 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small clumps. Plants usually consisting of a single growth. Stems porrect to pendulous, 4-8 cm long, sparsely branched. Leaves 3-8, scattered along stem, prostrate to pendulous, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing stem; lamina obovate to oblong, falcate, 6-16 cm x 1.5-2 cm, leathery, pale green to yellowish, margins serrulate, apex acute to unequally emarginate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, 70-180 mm long, arching or pendulous, old inflorescences drying black. Flowers 3-12, resupinate, porrect, nearly round, 20-30 mm x 20-30 mm, cream to white. Sepals and petals widely spreading, ovate, broadest at middle. Dorsal sepal incurved, 10-16 mm x 5-7 mm. Lateral sepals divergent, incurved, 10-16 mm x 5-7 mm, fused to column foot at base. Petals 10-16 mm x 5-7 mm. Labellum 4-6 mm long, white with orange, yellow, red or purple markings; lateral lobes erect, 7 mm x 5 mm; midlobe short, fleshy. Column 2.5-4 mm. Column foot 3-5 mm long, curved, almost at right-angles to column. Capsules porrect to pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests growing on trees on exposed slopes and ridgetops. It favours situations of high humidity and air movement, particularly those where breezes, mists, clouds and drizzly weather are frequent. It is confined to mountains and ranges in the tropics, but further south is found in both lowland and mountainous forests. In humid locations it will colonise remnant paddock trees, fruit trees and other garden trees and shrubs. Some forms of the flower have a very pleasant sweet fragrance and there is considerable variablility in labellum colour and pattern.

Widespread and common.

Flowering period: June-October.

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