Butterfly Orchid

Butterfly Orchid
Gary Backhouse
Common Name
Butterfly Orchid
Scientific Name
Sarcochilus australis
5-15cm across, stems to 5cm long
Leaf Description
3-10 thin, leathery leaves that are dark green. Leaves are linear-lanceolate to sickle shaped 2-11cm x 4-17mm.
General Description
A very rare, small epiphytic orchid with tufts of broad, fleshy leaves, each tuft with numerous fleshy roots and pendulous stems bearing 4-12, white, yellow-green and purple flowers. The only epiphytic orchid in the Melbourne area.
Flower Description
Semi-pendulous epiphytic orchid with roots attacted to the host. 2-12 yellow/green to brown flowers, to 15mm across, on up to 4 racemes. Perianth segments are spreading and dorsal sepal incurved. 3-loped Labellum is white with purple strips, lateral lobes erect and mid-lobe tiny.
Flower Colour
Yellowish-green to purplish brown
Strathewen, St Andrews
Flowering Months
Cool temperate rainforest, wet forest and fern gullies. Locally very restricted. One population was known to occur within the Kinglake National Park, but has disappeared since the 2009 fires.
Date of Last Record
Growing Conditions
Moist, humid conditions. Semi-shade to full shade. Lives mostly on mossy branches and trunks of trees and shrubs such as Coprosma quadrifida, Olearia argophylla, Pomaderris aspera, Hedycarya and Bedfordia. Often occurs close to the ground.