Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Corybas abellianus

Nodding Helmet Orchid

Corybas abellianus Dockrill North Queensland Naturalist 24(112): 1-2, f. (1955). Types: North Queensland, (Atherton Tableland), Atherton and Ravenshoe, 10 Apr. 1955, W.W. Abell and T. Abell s.n (holo NSW).


Occurs in far north-eastern Queensland on the McIlwraith Range, and further south from Atherton Tableland to Tully Falls.

Altitude: 600-1100 m.


Terrestrial herb forming small colonies. Tubers 2, globose, fleshy. Leaf solitary, prostrate, ground-hugging, basal, lamina cordate to orbicular, 1-2 cm x 0.5-1 cm, dark green with silvery white veins above, reddish beneath, margins entire to undulate. Inflorescence terminal, single-flowered, sessile. Flower solitary, resupinate, strongly nodding, hooded, 8-10 mm x 5-6 mm, reddish purple. Dorsal sepal free, strongly incurved in semi-circle, hooded, translucent in bottom half, 12-15 mm x 6-8 mm, much longer than labellum. Lateral sepals much reduced, deflexed, narrowly triangular, 1.2 mm long. Petals minute, narrowly triangular, 0.7 mm long. Labellum unlobed, whitish towards apex, thickened, margins overlapping, smooth. Column 3 mm long. Column foot absent. Capsules erect.


Occurs in highland rainforests where it forms small colonies among ferns and tussocks, growing in rich loamy soil. It also colonises embankments and track margins. The plants grow in the wet season, flowering in late summer and early autumn. The flowers are pollinated by tiny fungus gnats.

Generally localised.

Flowering period: February-May.

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