Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Serpenticaulis whitei

Yellow Snake Orchid

Serpenticaulis whitei (T.E.Hunt & Rupp) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 500 (2002).

Bulbophyllum whitei T.E.Hunt & Rupp, Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 60: 64-5 (1949). Type: Mt. Bartle Frere, July 1946, J.H. Wilkie s.n. (lectotype BRI), fide Clements (1989); Syntype: Gadgarra [Yungaburra, Atherton Tableland, North Queesland], July 1946, W.W. Abell s.n. (NSW).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland, mainly on the Atherton Tableland, but also in the Mossman-Daintree area.

Altitude: 20-1400 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming sparse clumps. Rhizomes thin, creeping, appressed to host, branched. Pseudobulbs fairly widely spaced, semi-erect, appressed to rhizome, ovoid to conical, 1.4-1.8 cm x 1-1.5 cm, dark green, reddish or purple, flattened, grooved. Leaves solitary on pseudobulb, apical, erect, ovate, 1-4 cm x 0.7-0.15 cm wide, tough, dark green. Inflorescence axillary, single-flowered, 20-30 mm long, from rhizome nodes; pedicel curved forward near apex, filiform. Flower solitary, resupinate, porrect to nodding, 4-7 mm x 10-15 mm, bright yellow or orange. Dorsal sepal porrect, hooded, 3-4 mm x 2-3 mm. Lateral sepals widely spreading, horizontal, straight to slightly falcate, 5-6 mm x 2-3 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals reduced, 1-2 mm x 1 mm, with red apical blotch. Labellum unlobed, 5-6 mm x 1.5 mm, fleshy, papillate, base red, apex yellow. Column porrect, 1.2-1.5 mm long. Column foot 1 mm long, at right-angles to column with auricle on either side of apex. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests and on rainforest margins growing on shrubs and trees. The flowers last 1-2 days.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: Sporadic throughout the year.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Bulbophyllum whitei and previously confused withBulbophyllum johnsonii.

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