Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Dipodium ensifolium

Leafy Hyacinth Orchid

Dipodium ensifolium F.Muell., Fragm. 5: 42 (1865). Type: In rupibus montium juxta Rockingham’s Bay, J. Dallachy s.n. (holo MEL; iso K).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Cooktown to Ingham.

Altitude: 0-1650 m.


Terrestrial herb forming leafy clumps. Stems 1 to few, leafy, erect, 20-100 cm long, tough, lengthening and becoming straggly with age. Leaves scattered along stem, erect to prostrate, distichous, alternate, sessile, bases imbricate; lamina linear to ensiform, 12-20 cm x 1.5 cm, dark green to pale green, channelled, curved, strongly ribbed, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary raceme, erect, 300-550 mm long, from upper axils of stem; pedicels 10-20 mm long, including ovary. Flowers 2-20, resupinate, porrect, star-shaped, 25-35 mm wide, pink to mauve with dark purplish spots and blotches. Sepals and petals fleshy. Dorsal sepal erect, oblong to obovate, 18-25 mm x 6 mm, apex obtuse. Lateral sepals widely divergent, obovate, 18-25 mm x 6 mm, apex obtuse. Petals divergent, obliquely erect, narrowly obovate, 16-23 mm x 4-6 mm. Labellum projecting forward, 20-25 mm x 5-6 mm, pink to mauve, 3-lobed; lateral lobes divergent, embracing column, linear, falcate; midlobe ovate to elliptic, distal half with band of mauve hairs. Column 9 mm long, anterior surface pubescent near base. Column foot absent. Capsules pendulous, dehiscent.


Occurs in open forests and woodlands from the coast to the ranges, growing in well-drained soil. It also survives in patches of open forest invaded by rainforest. In fire-prone areas the above ground parts of the plant are commonly destroyed by fire and quickly replaced by new shoots. The stems of unburnt plants develop into long lanky growths. The flowers are pollinated by small native bees.

Locally common.

Flowering period: October-January.

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