Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Taeniophyllum malianum

Tangled Ribbonroot

Taeniophyllum malianum Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1: 1022 (1914) and fig., op. cit. t. 363 No. 1404 (1928). Type: Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land: On trees in the alang-plains on the Malia [River], near the Saugeueti Base, alt. c. 150 m, Oct. 1908, R. Schlechter 18364 (holo B).


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

Altitude: 200-600 m

Also occurs in New Guinea.


Leafless epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming tangled clumps. Roots numerous, pendulous, rarely branched, 5-15 cm x 0.2-0.3 cm wide, green with irregular row of white spots, flattened, tangled, majority aerial, few attached to host. Stem 1-2 cm long, covered with short bracts that fray into stiff hair-like structures with age. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, 20-40 mm long, filiform, wiry, glabrous, with crowded apical bracts; pedicels 1.5-2 mm long. Flowers 5-15, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 5-6 mm x 4-5 mm, yellow; flowers short-lived, 1-3 open at once, opening widely in evening, fragrant. Sepals and petals free, widely spreading, linear, apices obtuse. Dorsal sepal obliquely erect, 5 mm x 1.2 mm. Lateral sepals divergent, 5 mm x 1 mm. Petals 4.7 mm x 1 mm. Labellum porrect, 8.5 mm x 3 mm, obscurely 3-lobed; spur projected backwards, 4.5 mm long, apex inflated. Column porrect, 1.5 mm long. Column foot absent. Capsules porrect, dehiscent.


Occurs in sparse scrub and rainforests growing in humid situations such as on moist slopes and ridges and along streams. The plants form tangled clumps of roots, the majority of which are pendulous or spreading and grow through the air, with only a few attaching the plant to the host. The insect-pollinated flowers are honey-scented, opening widely late in the afternoon and evening, and lasting less than a day. They are produced intermittently, with most plants in an area flowering simultaneously.

Locally common.

Flowering period: Sporadic throughout the year.

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