Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Serpenticaulis bowkettiae

Striped Snake Orchid

Serpenticaulis bowkettiae (F.M.Bailey) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 500 (2002).

Bulbophyllum bowkettiae F.M.Bailey, Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 1: 89 (1885). Type: On trees between Herberton and Mourilyan Harbour, J.W.R. Stuart s.n. (holo BRI).

Bulbophyllum waughense Rupp, Contr. New South Wales Natl. Herb. 1: 318 (1950). Type: Waugh’s Pocket, Cairns District, North Queensland, Aug. 1949, A. Johnson s.n. (holo NSW).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on the McIlwraith Range and Big Tableland, south to the Tully River.

Altitude: typically 600-1200 m, though it extends into coastal lowlands south of Innisfail.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming sparse clumps. Rhizomes thin, creeping, appressed to host, branched. Pseudobulbs widely spaced, prostrate, appressed to rhizome, ovoid, small, 0.7-1 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm wide, deeply grooved. Leaves solitary on pseudobulb, erect, apical, ovate, 1-2.5 cm x 0.8-0.12 cm wide, dark green, fleshy but tough, apex emarginate. Inflorescence axillary, single-flowered, 6-10 mm long, from rhizome nodes; pedicel curved forward near apex, filiform. Flowers solitary, resupinate, nodding, 5-7 mm x 6-8 mm, cream with conspicuous red stripes or sometimes wholly reddish. Petals much smaller than sepals. Dorsal sepal projected forward, slightly hooded, elliptical, 4-5 mm x 1.5-2.5 mm. Lateral sepals divergent, triangular, falcate, 4-5 mm x 1.5-2.5 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals reduced, incurved, 2-2.5 mm x 1-1.5 mm, with central red stripe. Labellum hinged to apex of column foot, 2-2.5 mm x 0.7 mm, obscurely 3-lobed; lateral lobes basal; midlobe oblong, fleshy, shallowly curved, with deep central groove. Column porrect, 1 mm long. Column foot 1.4 mm long, at right-angles to column. Capsules erect, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests growing on tree trunks and branches, less commonly on rocks and boulders.

Locally common.

Flowering period: April-September.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Bulbophyllum bowkettiae.

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