Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Schoenorchis micrantha

Tangled Flea Orchid

Schoenorchis micrantha Rein. ex Blume, Bijdr. 1(8): 362 (1825); Ascocentrum micranthum (Rein. ex Blume) Holtt., Gard. Bull. Sing. 11: 275 (1917). Type: Crescit; in sylvis monitanis Gede, Salak, Java, Mar., Kulh and von Hasselt s.n. (holo L).

Saccolabium chionanthum Lindl., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 35 (1859). Type: Java, Reinwardt s.n. (icon K-LINDL).

Schoenorchis densiflora Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 986 (1912). Type: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: On trees in the forests on the Djamu [River], alt. c. 600 m, 21 Feb. 1908, R. Schlechter 17316 (holo B; lecto K; isolectotype AMES, E, L, MO, NSW), fide Clements (1989).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Iron Range to Tully River.

Altitude: 0-400 m.

Also occurs in Indonesia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small tangled clumps. Roots numerous, thin. Stems slender, porrect to pendulous, branching freely, 3-15 cm long, thin, curved and twisted, often tangling when longer. Leaves scattered along stem, erect to prostrate, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing stem; lamina linear, 3-6 cm x 2.5 mm, green or purplish, usually curved, thick, fleshy, deeply grooved, apex acute. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, stiffly decurved, 10-30 mm long; pedicels 1-1.5 mm long, including ovary. Flowers 5-30, densely crowded, resupinate, porrect, tubular to bell-shaped, 2 mm x 1.5 mm, white. Sepals and petals not spreading widely. Dorsal sepal hooded, lancelolate, 2 mm x 1 mm, apex recurved. Lateral sepals free, oblong, 2 mm x 1 mm, apex recurved, apiculate. Petals oblong to obovate, 1.8 mm x 1.7 mm, apex recurved, obtuse. Labellum 2.5 mm x 1.5 mm, 3-lobed; lateral lobes short, triangular, erect; midlobe short; spur short, inflated. Column 0.5 mm long. Column foot absent. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Occurs in mangroves and rainforest trees in brightly lit humid situations where it forms tangled clumps. It extends to moderate elevations on the ranges of Cape York Peninsula. In very bright light the leaves can take on a reddish colour.

Locally common.

Flowering period: April-July.

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