Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Vappodes dicupha

White Butterfly Orchid

Vappodes dicupha (F.Muell.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 492 (2002).

Dendrobium bigibbum sensu F.Muell., Fragm. 6: 119 (1868), non Lindl. (1853); Dendrobium dicuphum F.Muell., Fragm. 8: 28 (1873); Callista dicupha (F.Muell.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 654 (1891). Type: Liverpool River, Gulliver s.n. (holo MEL; iso K, W).

Dendrobium dicuphum var. grandiflorum Rupp & T.E.Hunt, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 72: 241 (1948). Type: near Darwin, Northern Territory, G.L. Piper or R.J. Langdon s.n. (lectotype BRI), fide Clements (1989).

Dendrobium dicuphum var. album Hort. ex E.C.Cooper, Roy. Hort. Soc. Dist. Gdng. 2: 653 (1951), nom. illeg.


Occurs in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and in the Northern Territory in northern parts of the mainland and on Melville Island.

Altitude: 0-300 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming medium-sized slender clumps. Pseudobulbs erect, cylindrical to fusiform, 20-70 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, green. Leaves 2-10, scattered along upper half of pseudobulb, erect to recurved, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases sheathing pseudobulb; lamina narrowly ovate, 8-20 cm x 2-3 cm, green. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, 200-500 mm long. Flowers 2-20, resupinate, porrect, 20-30 mm x 25-45 mm, white, labellum with yellow or purple markings. Sepals and petals ranging from nearly closed to widely spreading. Dorsal sepal erect, 16-20 mm x 6-7 mm. Lateral sepals 16-20 mm x 7-8 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals 16-20 mm x 8-10 mm. Labellum 20 mm x 6 mm, appearing tubular; lateral lobes erect, embracing column; midlobe often decurved, with 5 fringed or crested ridges. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in many habitats including monsoonal rainforest thickets, littoral rainforests, streambank vegetation, paperbark swamps, humid areas in open woodlands and on the landward side of mangroves. It grows on trees, including paperbarks, fibrous trunks of the cycad Cycas armstrongii and species of Pandanus and is rarely seen growing on rocks. Some plants are self-pollinating and the flowers may not open properly.

Locally common.

Flowering period: March-August.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium dicuphum.

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