Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Thismia lanternata W.E.Cooper

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Flowers. © T. Hawkes

Cooper, W.E. (2017) Austrobaileya 10(1): 132-137. Type: Cook District: Ty-Gwyn, Chilverton near Ravenshoe, 29 January 2017, W. Cooper 2403, R. Jensen, T. Hawkes & T. de Groot (holo: CNS [spirit only]).

Common name

Fairy lantern


Plants lack chlorophyll, fleshy herb, lacking above ground stems and with flowers borne at ground level; roots vermiform, terete, branched, 1.6-2 mm thick.


Leaves spirally arranged, scale-like, triangular, c. 5 mm long, 2.5-3 mm wide at base, whitish, glabrous, papillose; base truncate; apex acute, entire. Bracts subtending flowers triangular, keeled, 4-10 mm long, 2.5-5 mm wide, papillose, cream-coloured.


Flowers solitary, sessile, terminal, actinomorphic, without mitral lobes; perianth 25-26 mm long; tube inflated, obovoid, dirty yellow with 12 longitudinal orange or dark-purplish veins, glabrous; aperture margin with 6 crenate lobes; outer tepals 3, very short and wing-like, c. 0.5 mm long and 7 mm wide, black or very dark brown; inner tepals 3, trullate, c. 11 mm long, to 11-12 mm wide at widest point, connate and together forming a flattish dome or mitre c. 6 mm above the perianth aperture with a nipple-like apex, black or very dark brown, glabrous; stamens 6, connate and forming a pendulous tube hanging from perianth aperture, each with 2 adaxially positioned shallow loculi, the abaxial surface facing the centre of the perianth tube whitish; connectives rectangular with 3- or 4-toothed apices; lateral appendages flattened and wing-like, adaxial, ± square; anthers adaxial, extrorse, pale yellow; style c. 2.5 mm long with 3 deeply divided, narrowly-triangular, erect, lanceolate stigmatic lobes c. 1.8 mm long, each acute at apex and with minute, erect trichomes abaxially and adaxially; ovary inferior, not delimited from hypanthium, unilocular, 3-carpellate, conical, c. 5 mm long and 3 mm wide, glabrous; ovules numerous.


Fruit (only one unripe fruit seen) cup-shaped, c. 5 mm long and wide, cream-green with brownish dots.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ. Known only from a few collections made near Ravenshoe, at an altitude of ca. 1000 m.

Natural History & Notes

Plants lack chlorophyll and obtain carbohydrates from other plants by accessing fungal mycorrhizal networks.

Description from Cooper (2017).

RFK Code
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