Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Cepobaculum canaliculatum

Brown Tea Tree Orchid

Cepobaculum canaliculatum (R.Br.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 486 (2002).

Dendrobium canaliculatum R.Br., Prod. 333 (1810); Callista canaliculata (R.Br.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. 2: 655 (1891).Type: (T.) B. v. desc. et ic. pict. [Tropical Australia; Endeavour River, J. Banks s.n.] (holo illust. BM).

Dendrobium canaliculatum var. nigrescens Nicholls, Austral. Orchid Rev. 7: 40 (1942). Type: cult. ex Australia, F.A. Weinthal s.n. (holo MEL not found, lectotype Nichollís plate 412 b,c,e), fide Clements (1989).

Dendrobium canaliculatum var. pallidum Dockrill, North Queensland Naturalist 24(115): 21 (1956). Type: Australia, Queensland, Starke River, Le Roy s.n. (holo NSW).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland from Cape York to near Laura and Cooktown.

Altitude: 5-700 m.


Epiphytic or lithophytic herb forming small to medium-sized clumps. Rhizome superficial, branched. Pseudobulbs erect, conical to fusiform, 3-12 cm x 1-3 cm, yellowish. Leaves 2-6 per pseudobulb, erect, apical, sessile; lamina terete, 10-25 cm x 0.6-1.2 cm, dark green, deeply channelled, fleshy, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect to arching, 200-300 mm long from apical nodes; pedicels 12-25 mm long. Flowers 5-30, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 20-25 mm x 25-30 mm, light brown to caramel with darker tips, centre sometimes whitish. Sepals and petals opening widely, twisted near apiculate apex. Dorsal sepal free, oblong to narrowly triangular, 10-15 mm x 3-4 mm, apex obtuse to acuminate. Lateral sepals similar to dorsal sepal, 10-15 mm x 3-4 mm, bases fused to column foot. Petals erect, spathulate, longer and slightly narrower than sepals, 13-18 mm x 2.5-3 mm, apex obtuse to acuminate. Labellum 10-13 mm x 7-9 mm, white with purple streaks; lateral lobes broad, erect; midlobe 4-5 mm wide, shortly pointed with 3 undulate ridges. Column 3-4 mm long. Column foot 4-5 mm long. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in woodlands and grassy forests in wet areas, along stream banks and on stunted trees in low-lying areas inundated during the wet season. Plants can survive in vegetation invaded by rainforest. The flowers are long-lasting and pleasantly fragrant, pollinated by wasps and hornets. During dry years plants can lose all their leaves. Natural hybrids with other species of Cepobaculum have been observed in this species, as has hybridisation with Durabaculum species.

Locally common.

Flowering period: August-November.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Dendrobium canaliculatum.

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