Plant of the month 10/2021: Dendrobium canaliculatum

Photo: Julia Hazel

For much of the year, tea tree orchids Dendrobium canaliculatum (Orchidaceae) are quite inconspicious in the wild. If you notice them at all, you might chuckle at their incongruous appearance, rather like dryish bunches of small onions arranged on the branches of wetland Melaleucas (photo below) and other trees.

Photo: Russell Cumming

However, from about September to November, these small epiphytes put out their beautiful, dainty flowers and remain in bloom for many weeks. At a time when not much else was flowering, tea tree orchids were the botanical highlight of a recent walk near Mutarnee (photo below).

Photo: Julia Hazel

Among orchid growers Dendrobium canaliculatum have a reputation of being difficult to grow, but they are hardy plants in their natural habitat.

The Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids website provides botanical details and informs us this species has been renamed Cepobaculum canaliculatum although the synonym Dendrobium canaliculatum is still widely used.