Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Thelychiton curvicaulis

Rainforest Rock Orchid

Thelychiton curvicaulis (F.M.Bailey) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 491 (2002).

Dendrobium speciosum var. curvicaule F.M.Bailey, Bot. Bull. Dept. Agric. Queensland 14: 12 (1896); Dendrobium curvicaule (F.M.Bailey) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Austral. Orch. Res. 1: .51 (1989). Type: cult. Bowen Park, Brisbane ex Lady Elliotís Island, Sep., [F.M.]Bailey?](holo BRI).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Mossman to Paluma.

Altitude: 20-1200 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herbs forming small to moderate clumps. Roots spreading. Pseudobulbs erect to curved, cylindrical to slightly tapered, 10-30 cm x 1-2 cm, green or reddish, round to ellipsoid in cross-section, furrowed, covered in white bracts when young. Leaves 1-3, apical, erect to spreading, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing pseudobulb; lamina elliptic, 8-15 cm x 3-4.5 cm, moderately thick, leathery, dark green, apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 250-450 mm long; peduncle one-third to one-half length of the raceme, 2-3 mm wide, green, smooth, with tubular bracts; pedicels 2-4.5 cm long. Flowers 25-45, not crowded, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 20-30 mm x 20-30 mm, white or cream, fragrant. Sepals and petals widely spreading. Dorsal sepal erect, oblong to narrowly triangular, 18-27 mm x 3-4 mm, apex obtuse. Lateral sepals divergent, oblong to triangular, falcate, 15-22 mm x 4-5 mm, fused to column foot at base, apex obtuse. Petals porrect to spreading, oblong, falcate, 15-20 mm x 2-3 mm, apex obtuse. Labellum projected forward, curved, 11-13 mm x 9-11 mm, cream with reddish purple flecks and lines, 3-lobed; gap between lateral lobes and midlobe deep and wide; lateral lobes erect, square; midlobe apex apiculate. Column porrect, 4 mm long. Column foot 4-5 mm long, at right angles to column. Capsule pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests and rainforest margins growing on rocks and trees, where it tends to form small clumps. Plants from higher elevations have larger pseudobulbs and longer racemes than those from the coast.


Flowering period: July-September.


This species has a confused history. In the past it has been incorrectly linked with T. spectabilis which has large pseudobulbs and crowded spikes of large light yellow flowers.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium speciosum var. curvicaule and Dendrobium curvicaule.

More about Thelychiton