Australian Native Terrestrial Orchids

Submitted by Paul T on

Howdy All,

Not sure whether these are of any interest to people or not? Also not sure whether this is the right place to put it? If the moderators want to move it (or delete it), go right ahead!! ;D

I have these two in flower in my shadehouse at present.

The first is Diplodium coccineum (formerly Pterostylis coccinea), which is flowering for the first time for me. Flowers stand at about 20 to 25cm tall or so (I haven't actually measured it, just from memory) and the flower is about 2.5cm or so.

The second is another first flowering, but it is a Chiloglottis species that I didn't even realise was in bud until I found a flower on it yesterday. It is Chiloglottis seminuda. The flower is around 1cm across, standing maybe 10cm tall. Cute, but you can see so much more detail in the pics than in real life. I've provided some different angles just to show different details.

Hopefully these are of interest so some of you. Sorry for those who've just seen these (or are about to see these) on the SRGC forum as well.



Submitted by Mark McD on Sat, 02/19/2011 - 08:58

Paul, these are awesome, no need having qualms about posting about native Australian flora.  One of my favorite additions to the Pacific Bulb Society image galleries of recent, is a good deal of coverage on South African terrestrial orchids, I had no idea about the great diversity of fascinating orchids from that part of the world.  I'll probably never be able to grow any of them, but it is enlightening to learn about such whimsical orchidaceae from around the globe.

I have heard the name Pterostylis, but not Diplodium; the flowers do a fair impression of a hooded Arisaema.  Charming little orchids; the second one is really tiny isn't it, at only 10 cm tall and a flower merely 1 cm across :o  Congratulations on your first flowering on these little cuties.

Submitted by Hoy on Sat, 02/19/2011 - 14:55

Nice to see your orchids! I have always been tempted to grow such plants and have some indoors (only common types). My wish is to try and establish wild species in the garden but they are hard to get and prohibited to dig up (almost all Norwegian wild orchids are red-listed).

Submitted by Paul T on Sat, 02/19/2011 - 14:59


Yes, I'd like to grow so many of the northern hemisphere ones as well, but almost impossible to find here. :rolleyes:  I shall be experimenting with growing from seed though in the future hopefully.  8)


Pterostylis got split up a few years ago into 6 (I think?) genus, one of which is Diplodium.  Another is Taurantha (which I think is predominantly the species from New Caledonia and the like), and I'd have to go looking up to work out the others.  ;D

Submitted by Paul T on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 04:33

Howdy All,

Here's another couple of pics of the Diplodium coccineum now that more flowers have opened.  I've included a pic of the full plant to give you an idea of the growing habit etc, a pic of the 2 new flowers and the colours of the original flower now that it has aged.  Very red!!  I have been told there are various shades of coccineum and that some have a good red and others don't.  I'm pretty pleased with how red this one is. 


Submitted by Paul T on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 04:29

Howdy All,

A couple of pics of some Aussie native terrestrial orchids that I took at our local Orchid Society meeting last night.  Sorry for no full shots of the plants, but it wasn't exactly an easy place for photography.  :rolleyes:  I still thought you might enjoy seeing them.

Diplodium abruptum

Speculatha (that is what the tag said... I don't know anything more).

I also had my Chiloglottis further up this page identified as Chiloglottis seminuda, so it is nice to have a name for it. 8)

Submitted by Mark McD on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 09:05

Both Diplodium species are most attractive, the ascending lateral appendages give the flower a certain grace.  Do these terrestrial orchids take any freezing conditions?

Submitted by RickR on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 10:57

I have never seen sepals reaching for the sky on an orchid like they are on that Diplodium.  Whimsical is the right word!

And what is that dark growth on the lip of the Chiliglottis supposed to be mimicking?  It's all very intriguing...

Thanks Paul.  I think these are my first glimpses of down under orchids ever!

Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 14:05

Paul, do these orchids have scent? What kind of insect are attracted to the flowers? They do resemble Arisaema!
But alas! I can't grow these in the garden :-[

Submitted by Paul T on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 14:49


Some of the Pterostylis relatives such as the Diplodium coccineum grow locally to me.  They definitely would get some freezing, but nothing like snow or heavy permanently frozen ground for any length of time.  We just don't get that much here in Aus. ;D


Some of the species have vertical sepals that point up like little antennae.  The Chiloglottis is insect mimicking for being pollinated while attempting to mate with the flower.  Similar setup to things like Ophrys etc I think?  Glad you're enjoying your first glimpse. 8)


I've not sniffed them.  I've never actually thought about what pollinated the Pterostylis..... I must look into that.  Some mimic insects to attract a mate, but I'm not sure with the greenhoods. :-\

Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 21:13

I have just opened this thread and what amazing flower forms! 
Their similarity to Arisaema certainly does suggest to the layman (myself, that is  :D) some sort of convergent evolution of flower shape.  I wonder what advantage, if any, it might confer... is there a reservoir of nectar in those bulbous bases?
It's my first exposure to Australian orchids, as well.
Thanks for posting them, Paul! 

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 19:30

Great plants for sure! I've had some glimpses of them on 'the other' forum, when I have a chance to get that far down the endless list of
Certainly not outdoor plants, here, but there are a number of Aus orchids available for indoor/greenhouse growing in Canada, not sure how many of the terrestrial ones are around, but I suspect some are.. I'd be interested in trying some shade lovers indoors...

Interestingly, of various types of sub/tropical plants that one might grow indoors (eg-cacti and succulents, bulbs, orchids, small foliage plants such as ferns, aroids, etc) I have seen more species (of course a lot of hybrids too) of orchids available than anything else.. you could actually get a lot of cool plants from commercial sources in-country, which is not true of any of those other categories..