Dendrobium bigibbum

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Cooktown orchid
Cooktown orchids and bud.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Dendrobieae
Subtribe: Dendrobiinae
Genus: Dendrobium
Species:
D. bigibbum
Binomial name
Dendrobium bigibbum
Lindl. (1852)
Synonyms[1]

Dendrobium bigibbum, commonly known as the Cooktown orchid or mauve butterfly orchid,[2] is an epiphytic or lithophytic orchid in the family Orchidaceae. It has cylindrical pseudobulbs, each with between three and five green or purplish leaves and arching flowering stems with up to twenty, usually lilac-purple flowers. It occurs in tropical North Queensland, Australia and New Guinea.

Illustration by Lewis Roberts
Flower detail

There are four varieties of this orchid, each of which has previously been considered a separate species.

Description[edit]

Dendrobium bigibbum is an epiphytic or lithophytic orchid with green or purplish pseudobulbs 200–1,200 mm (8–50 in) long and 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) wide, often with purplish edges. Each pseudobulb has between three and five egg-shaped leaves 100–150 mm (4–6 in) long and 30–35 mm (1.2–1.4 in) wide. The arching flowering stems are 200–400 mm (8–20 in) long with between two and twenty lilac-purple, rarely bluish or pinkish flowers. The flowers are resupinate, 20–30 mm (0.79–1.2 in) long and 30–70 mm (1–3 in) wide, the size depending on the variety. The sepals are oblong to egg-shaped, 20–30 mm (0.79–1.2 in) long and 9–11 mm (0.35–0.43 in) wide. The dorsal sepal is upright or turned back and the lateral sepals spread widely apart from each other. The petals are broadly egg-shaped, 25–30 mm (0.98–1.2 in) long and wide. The labellum is 20–26 mm (0.8–1 in) long, 20–28 mm (0.8–1 in) wide and has three lobes. The side lobes are upright and the middle lobe has four or five ridges along its midline and a hairy patch in the middle. Flowering occurs from February to July.[2][3][4][5][6]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

Dendrobium bigibbum was first formally described in 1852 by John Lindley and the description was published in Paxton's Flower Garden.[1][7][8] The specific epithet (bigibbum) is derived from the Latin prefix bi- meaning "two"[9]:141 and gibbum meaning "humped".[9]:366

Four varieties of this species are recognised by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP):

The taxonomy of this species and of its varieties is confused, especially with respect to the scientific name of the Cooktown orchid.[11] On 19 November 1959, the Cooktown Orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum var. phalaenopsis) was proclaimed as the floral emblem of Queensland.[15] (Dendrobium bigibbum var. phalaenopsis had been originally named in 1883 by Frederick Manson Bailey, based on Robert D. FitzGerald's Dendrobium phalaenopsis.)[16] In 2015 Peter Adams reduced Fitzgerald's D. phalaenopsis to a synonym of D. bigibbum var. superbum and this has been accepted by WCSP. Adams also reduced David Jones's Vappodes lithocola to a synonym of D. bigibbum var. compactum,[17] D. phalaenopsis var. compactum to D. bigibbum var. compactum[18] and D. striaenopsis to D. bigibbum var. schroederianum.[19][20]

Queensland State Floral Emblem[edit]

The Queensland government, in preparation for its 1959 Centenary, sought advice as to what native species would be a good floral emblem. Specifically, the government was looking for an easily grown species found only in Queensland, which was decorative, distinctive, and close to the State colour, maroon. The Cooktown orchid, which meets these criteria, was one of the four initial suggestions, the others being the red silky oak (Grevillea banksii), the umbrella tree (Brassaia actinophylla (now Schefflera actinophylla), and the wheel-of-fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus). The Courier-Mail, a Brisbane newspaper, sought additional suggestions from its readers, and compiled a list of 13 possibilities. In a public poll, the Cooktown orchid came in first place, the red silky oak in second, and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), already the floral emblem of the capital city Brisbane, came in third.[21]

In 1968 the Cooktown orchid was featured on an Australian postage stamp.[22]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This orchid species grows on trees and rocks in rainforest, coastal scrub,near rivers, in swamps and open forest in tropical Queensland, southern New Guinea and a single island in Indonesia.[2][10][11][12][13][14]

Conservation[edit]

Dendrobium bigibbum is listed as "vulnerable" under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The main threats to the species are "settlement and visitor pressures inappropriate fire regimes and illegal collection.[23]

Use in horticulture[edit]

It is illegal to collect the Cooktown orchid from its natural environment without a licence.[23] Commercially cultivated plants like a dry, sunny position with a minimum of watering and a temperature that does not fall below 13 °C (55 °F). Specimens need a bush-house in cooler climates.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dendrobium bigibbum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. pp. 417–418. ISBN 978-1877069123.
  3. ^ "Vappodes bigibba". Trin keys: Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Vappodes phaelenopsis". Trin keys: Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Dendrobium bigibbum". Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Dendrobium bigibbum". Orchids of New Guinea. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Dendrobium bigibbum". APNI. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  8. ^ Lindley, John; Paxton, Joseph (1853). Gleanings and original memoranda (Volume 3). London: Bradbury and Evans. pp. 25–26. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  10. ^ a b "Dendrobium bigibbum var. bigibbum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Brydie, Jim. "The Dendrobium bigibbum complex". Species Orchid Society of Western Australia (Inc.). Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Dendrobium bigibbum var. compactum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  13. ^ a b "Dendrobium bigibbum var. schoederianum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  14. ^ a b "Dendrobium bigibbum var. superbum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  15. ^ "Badges, arms, floral and other emblems of Quensland Act 1959" (PDF). Australian National Botanic Garden. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Dendrobium bigibbum var. phalaenopsis". APNI. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Vappodes lithocola". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  18. ^ "Dendrobium phalaenopsis var. compactum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  19. ^ "Dendrobium bigibbum var. schroederianum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  20. ^ Adams, Peter B. (2 April 2015). "Dendrobium bigibbum (sect. Phalaenanthe) in Australia — analysis of diagnostic characters, review of taxa and a new classification". Kew Bulletin. 70 (2). doi:10.1007/s12225-015-9565-x.
  21. ^ "Floral emblems of Australia - Cooktown Orchid". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Australian Plants on Stamps". Australian National Botanic Garden. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  23. ^ a b "Approved Conservation Advice for Dendrobium bigibbum" (PDF). Australian Government Department of the Environment. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  24. ^ Scarth-Johnson, Vera. 2000. National Treasures: Flowering plants of Cooktown and Northern Australia, p. 153. Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery Association. ISBN 0-646-39726-5 (pbk); ISBN 0-646-39725-7 Limited Edition leather-bound]