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Flower. Copyright Stanley Breeden

Scale bar 10mm. Copyright CSIRO

Phaius australis



Scientific Name

Phaius australis F.Muell.

Mueller, F.J.H. von (1858) Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 1(2): 42. Type: In Australia orientali subtropica.

Common name

Swamp Orchid


Flowers and fruits as a plant about 1-2 m tall. Stem or pseudobulb about 3-7 cm diam., +/- at ground level.


Leaf blades rather large, about 30-120 cm long, longitudinally folded, bases sheathing the stem.


Perianth lobes often pink to brown to red on the inner surface but almost white on the outer surface. Calyx lobed +/- uniform in size and dimensions about 60 x 12 mm. Petals about 45 x 11 mm. Labellum pinkish-purple, about 50 x 45 mm. Anthers one, filaments and style fused to form one structure, a column about 20 x 7 x 5 mm. Ovary longitudinally grooved. Stigma elongate.


Capsule about 8-11 cm long, splitting lengthwise into six segments but remaining fused at the base and apex. Seeds minute, about 1.2 mm long, +/- 2-winged, testa reticulate, white cream or translucent. Embryo minute.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ and southwards to coastal central Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in CYP and NEQ from near sea level to 700 m. Usually grows in or on the edges of swamps in open forest but is sometimes associated with rain forest. Also occurs in Asia, Malesia and the western Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

Commonly cultivated, this terrestrial orchid does well potted or in a moist position in the garden.

Phaius amboinensis is present in the NT. Phaius pictus is present in Qld.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)


Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)


RFK Code