Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Ephippium masdevalliaceum

Red Horntail Orchid

Ephippium masdevalliaceum (Kraenzl.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones, Orchadian 13(11): 499 (2002).

Bulbophyllum masdevalliaceum Kraenzl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 34: 251 (1904). Type: Neu-Guinea, Soron, Beccari 494 (lecto FI); Syntype: Neu-Guinea, Kei-Inseln, Beccari 10211 (FI).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland on Moa Island in Torres Strait, on coastal areas adjacent to Shelburne Bay and along the Rocky River on the north-eastern side of Cape York Peninsula.

Altitude: 20-150 m.

Also occurs in Indonesia and New Guinea.


Epiphytic herb forming moderately dense, medium-sized clumps. Rhizomes creeping, appressed to host, much-branched, slender, 2 mm thick. Pseudobulbs widely spaced, erect, conical, tapered, 1.5-4 cm x 0.8-1.2 cm, dark green to yellowish green, grooved. Leaf solitary on pseudobulb, erect, apical, petioles 1-2 cm long, bases not sheathing stem; lamina elliptic to lanceolate, 8-15 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, dark green to yellowish green, thin-textured but stiff, apex unequally emarginate. Inflorescence axillary, single-flowered, erect, 100-200 mm long, from rhizome nodes, thin; pedicels 20-25 mm long, including ovary. Flower solitary, resupinate, porrect, 6-9 cm x 2-2.5 cm, reddish to reddish purple, with yellow or white margins and white tips on the sepals; petals purplish. Dorsal sepal erect, oblong-lanceolate, 20-35 mm x 3-4 mm, margins densely ciliate, apex aristate. Lateral sepals deflexed to pendulous, fused at the base, each sepal asymmetric, ovate-lanceolate, 35-80 mm x 5-7 mm, bases fused to column foot, apices tapering, with clubbed filiform tails, 20-30 mm long, often tangled. Petals falcate, forming a hood over the column and labellum base, 4-7 mm x 2 mm, margins finely denticulate. Labellum unlobed, hinged on the apex of the column foot, 5-7 mm x 1.5-2 mm, purple and yellow; apex drawn out into a thin linear appendage. Column porrect from the end of the ovary, 3 mm long, with long apical wings. Column foot at right-angles to the column, 1.5 mm long, uncinate. Capsules unknown.


Grows low down on the trunks and larger branches of fibrous-barked trees on rainforest margins and in vine forests and monsoonal thickets. The flowers are short-lived but are produced in succession.

Locally common.

Flowering period: July-October.

Name Changes

Until recently known as Bulbophyllum masdevalliaceum. Also previously confused with Bulbophyllum blumei.

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