Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Calanthe triplicata (Willemet) Ames

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers [not vouchered]. © CSIRO
Habit, leaves and flowers [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Fruit. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Ames, O. (1907) Philippine Journal of Science C. Botany 2 : 326.

Common name

Christmas Orchid


Occasionally flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 m tall, frequently flowers when smaller.


Leaves lanceolate, borne on a pseudobulb at ground level and then enlarging. Leaf blades about 25-90 x 6-11.5 cm, gradually tapering to the sheathing base. Venation longitudinal and parallel with about 6-9 veins more prominent than the rest.


Flowers produced in erect racemes about 30-150 cm long. Flowers about 15-40 mm diam. Pedicels about 40-45 mm long. Tepals about 18 x 9 mm, apices acute. Labellum about 15 x 23 mm.


Capsules obovoid to cylindrical, about 4 cm long, splitting longitudinally but remaining intact at the base and the apex. Seeds very small, winged. Embryo cream.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in CYP and NEQ from 700-1250 m. Usually grows in the more open areas in upland and mountain rain forest particularly in rocky situations. Also occurs in Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

This showy terrestrial orchid is commonly cultivated by enthusiasts and in shaded parts of the garden.

Orchis triplicata Willem., Ann. Bot. 18: 52(1796), Type: Amboyne, Rumphius s.n.; holo: Presumed lost; neo: illust. in Rumphius. Fide Clements, M. A. (1989) Catalogue of Australian Orchids. Calanthe veratrifolia var. australis Lindl., Folia Orchidacea: sub. Calanthe : 8(1854), Type: Australia, in the Illawarra district, South of Port Jackson A. Cunningham. Holo: K-L. Fide Clements, M. A. (1989) Cat. Australian Orchids. Calanthe veratrifolia var. stenochila Rchb.f., Hamburger Garten-und Blumenzeitung 13 : 313(1857), Type: Im Garten des Hern Borsig zu Moabit bei Berlin von Herrn Gaerdt cultivert. Holo: W (not found.) Fide Clements, M. A. (1989) Cat. Aust. Or Calanthe veratrifolia Ker Gawl., Edwards's Botanical Register 9 : t. 72(1823). Calanthe veratrifolia var. kennyi F.M.Bailey, Queensland Agricultural Journal 28: 276(1912), Type: Queensland, Lake Eacham, Dr. F. Hamilton Kenny; holo: BRI. Calanthe veratrifolia var. australis Lindl. & Paxton, Fl. Gard 2: 132(1851), Type: A greenhouse terrestrial Orchid from New Holland.This plant was originally found by the late Allan Cunningham in August 1822. Holo: K-L.
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