Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Thelychiton nitidus

Atherton Cane Orchid

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

Dendrobium speciosum var. nitidum F.M.Bailey, Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 1: 10 (1884); Dendrobium nitidum sensu M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Austral. Orch. Res. 1: 58 (1989). Type: Tropical Queensland, F.M. Bailey s.n. (holo BRI not found); cult. Bowen Park, Brisbane, 14 Sep.1894, F.M. Bailey ex Queensland, [Anon] s.n. (neotype BRI), fide Clements (1989).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Big Tableland to Evelyn Tableland, and west to Undara.

Altitude: 500-1400 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small to medium-sized clumps. Pseudobulbs erect, cylindrical, 40-90 cm x 0.8-1.2 cm, brownish green to yellowish, ribbed. Leaves 3-7, erect to prostrate, apical, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing pseudobulb; lamina oblong to obovate 7-13 cm x 2-4 cm, dark green, thin-textured, apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 100-300 mm long; pedicels to 20 mm long. Flowers 10-30, resupinate, porrect to nodding, 14-17 mm x 14-17 mm, often drooping, greenish to dull yellow inside, externally yellowish or reddish brown, lacking blotches or with faint blotching. Sepals and petals spreading to incurved, moderately thick and fleshy. Dorsal sepal obliquely erect, oblong, 7-10 mm x 3-4 mm. Lateral sepals widely divergent, triangular, falcate, 7-10 mm x 3-4 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals erect, linear, falcate, 7-10 mm x 2 mm. Labellum curved, 7-8 mm x 5-6 mm, 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect; midlobe reniform, with 3 ridges. Column 3 mm long. Column foot curved, 5 mm long, almost at right-angles to column. Capsule pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in rainforests and moist or humid areas in open forests and woodlands growing on trees and rocks. It frequently colonises remnant trees in paddocks. The flowers are pleasantly fragrant.

Locally common.

Flowering period: July-August.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium speciosum var. nitidum gracillimum.

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