Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Spathoglottis plicata

Large Purple Orchid

Spathoglottis plicata Blume, Bijdr. 401, t. 76 (1825). Type: Java, C. Blume s.n. (holo L; iso BO, P).

Bletia angusta Gaud., Voy. Freyc. Bot. 421 (1829). Type: Moluccas, Rawak, Freycinet s.n. (holo P).

Paxtonia rosea Lindl. in Edwards’s, Bot. Reg. Misc. 61 (1838). Type: Philippine Is., Luzon, Cuming s.n. (holo K).

Spathoglottis lilacina Griff., Bot. Pl. Asiat. 3: 323 (1851). Type: Malaya, Pulo Bissar (now Pulau Besar), W. Griffith s.n. (holo K).

Spathoglottis spicata Lindl., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 9 (1859), orth. var.

Spathoglottis vieillardii Rchb.f., Linnaea 31: 85 (1877). Type: New Caledonia, basse montagne a Balade, 1855-60, Vieillard 1302 (holo P).

Spathoglottis daenikeri Kraenzl., Viert. Nat. Ges. Zurich 74: 80 (1929). Type: New Caledonia, des Berges auf der Glalbrusel Pourne, 14 Apr. 1925, A.Ü. Däniker 1622 (holo Z).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from the Jardine River to Cooktown.

Altitude: 0-300 m.

Also occurs in New Caledonia, New Guinea, India, South-East Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tonga and Samoa.


Terrestrial herb forming tall clumps. Pseudobulbs crowded, erect, ovoid, 4-6 cm x 2-4 cm, shallowly subterranean, fibrous. Leaves 3-4, erect, apical, petioles 8-15 cm long; lamina lanceolate, 50-90 cm x 8-15 cm, yellowish green to dark green, pleated, apex acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, 500-1000 mm long, hairy, from base of pseudobulb. Flowers 3-40, resupinate, porrect to nodding, star-shaped, 35-55 mm x 35-55 mm, deep pink to purple. Dorsal sepal erect or slightly incurved, hairy, 20-30 mm x 8-12 mm. Lateral sepals divergent, 18-28 mm x 8-12 mm. Petals widely spreading, 20-30 mm x 12-18 mm. Labellum 20-30 mm x 12-15 mm, projected forward, T-shaped when flattened, 3-lobed; lateral lobes narrow, erect; midlobe with truncate or emarginate apex, base with 2 raised hairy calli. Column 10 mm long, curved. Column foot short. Capsules porrect to pendulous, hairy, dehiscent.


Occurs in sunny sites in swamps, seepages, seasonally inundated areas and moist grassy patches close to small streams.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: September-April.

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