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Dipodium punctatum fir00002.jpg
Dipodium punctatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Cymbidieae
Subtribe: Cymbidiinae[1]
Alliance: Dipodium
Genus: Dipodium
Type species
Dipodium punctatum[2]

see text

  • Hydranthus Kuhl & Hasselt ex Rchb. f.
  • Leopardanthus Blume
  • Tricochilus Ames
  • Wailesia Lindl.

Dipodium is a genus of about 25[3] species of orchids native to tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of south-east Asia, New Guinea, the Pacific Islands and Australia. It is the only genus of its alliance, Dipodium. Plants of this genus are commonly referred to as hyacinth orchids.[2]


The species are perennial terrestrial herbs or herbaceous climbers/epiphytes.[4][5] Many species, particularly in eastern Australia are leafless mycoheterotrophs. Others have medium-sized to very large leaves that are parallel-veined and with entire margins.[4]

Flowers are arranged in a raceme with very few or up to 50 flowers.[4] These may be fragrant or odourless, are white, pink, purple, yellow or green, often with spots or blotches.[4] The labellum is three-lobed.[4] Each of the flowers have two pollinia that are supported on two stipes.[4] Dehiscent capsules, produced after flowering, hold the seed which is released when they split longitudinally along six seams.[4] Between 30 and 500 seeds are produced per capsule.[4]


The genus was formally described in 1810 by Scottish botanist Robert Brown in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen.[2] The name Dipodium is derived the Greek words di (two) and podia (little feet), a reference to the two stipes supporting the pollinia.[3]

Two flowering scapes of a leafless species in south-eastern Australia


Species include:[6]

Undescribed species[edit]

  • Dipodium sp. Basalt Woodland (M.D. Barrett 198) - northern Kimberley, Western Australia.[7]
  • Dipodium sp. Sandstone (R.L. Barrett & K.W. Dixon 1642) - northern Kimberley,[8]


It is thought that the flowers attract native bees and wasps through floral mimicry.[9]


An infusion of the leaves of Dipodium pandanum is traditionally drunk in Bouganville to help relieve respiratory infections.[10]

Cultural references[edit]

A hyacinth orchid is the subject of the poem The Aboriginal Axe by Australian poet Douglas Stewart. In the poem, Stewart refers to the flowers as "lovely and leprous, flushed and spotted".[11]

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Dipodium at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Dipodium at Wikispecies


  1. ^ "Dipodium R.Br.". The Orders and Families of Monocots. eMonocot. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Dipodium R.Br". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Clements, Mark A (2013). The Allure of Orchids. National Library Australia. pp. 48–51. ISBN 978-0-642-27807-4. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dipodium R.Br.". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. 
  5. ^ Weston, P.H. "Genus Dipodium". PlantNET - New South Wales Flora Online. Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney Australia. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Dipodium". The Plant List version 1.1. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Dipodium sp. Basalt Woodland (M.D. Barrett 198)". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. 
  8. ^ "Dipodium sp. Sandstone (R.L. Barrett & K.W. Dixon 1642)". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. 
  9. ^ Jessup, Scott; Johnson, Glen (1997). "Yellow Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium hamilonianum Action Statement" (PDF). Department of Sustainability andEnvironment. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Lawler, L.J.; Slaytor, M. (1969). "The distribution of alkaloids in orchids from the territory of Papua and New Guinea". Proceedings of the Linnaen Society of New South Wales. 94: 237. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Stewart, Douglas. "The Aboriginal Axe". Australian Poetry Library.