Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Schoenorchis sarcophylla

Fleshy Flea Orchid

Schoenorchis sarcophylla Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 1022 (1914). Type: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: On trees in the forests above the Djamu Gorge, alt. c. 600 m, R. Schlechter 16815 (holo B).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on Iron Range and McIlwraith Range.

Altitude: 400-600 m.

Also occurs in New Guinea.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small clumps. Plants usually consisting of a single growth with numerous thin roots. Stems slender, porrect to pendulous, 3-5 cm long, apex upcurved, old parts covered by imbricate bracts. Leaves 3-7, crowded, prostrate to pendulous, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing stem; lamina linear to narrowly elliptic, 2-3 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm wide, dark green, fleshy, channelled, usually decurved, apex obtuse to unequally emarginate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, sometimes paniculate, stiffly arching, 20-40 mm long. Flowers 5-30, crowded, resupinate, erect, tubular, 3 mm x 3 mm, white. Sepals and petals overlapping, not spreading widely. Dorsal sepal hooded, obovate, 1.2 mm x 1 mm, apex apiculate. Lateral sepals free, projected forwards, obovate, 1.5 mm x 1 mm, apex apiculate. Petals enclosed by sepals, elliptical to obovate, 0.8 mm x 0.6 mm, apex obtuse. Labellum 3 mm x 1 mm, 3-lobed; lateral lobes small; midlobe short, thick, fleshy; spur short, inflated. Column 8 mm long, porrect on end of ovary. Column foot absent. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Known from only 2 localities. At one locality it grows on twigs overhanging a stream, and the second locality is a sheltered ridge with the plants growing on small shrubs. Being small and easily overlooked explains why the species is rarely collected.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: August-September.

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