Dendrobium section Spatulata Lindl.,
Hook. London J. Bot. 2 (1843) 235.
Rhizome short. Pseudobulbs sometimes short, ovoid and with few semiterete, grooved leaves, but usually much elongated (up to 5 m tall in some species), with many internodes, rather fleshy, swollen at the very base, several- to many leaved in apical part. Leaves sheathing at the base, glabrous, usually coriaceous. Inflorescences lateral from the upper part of the stem, or subterminal, racemose, few- to many-flowered. Flowers medium-sized to large, resupinate, long-lived, often showy. Mentum usually tubular in apical part. Petals usually distinctly longer than the sepals, often spirally twisted. Lip not mobile, 3-lobed.
The Philippines, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, Moluccas, New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji. About 50 species; in New Guinea c. 31 species. See map: SPATMAP1.JPG (with number of species indicated), from P. Cribb, Kew Bull. 41 (1986) 616, map 1.
Epiphytes in lowland forest and savannah, with only few species occurring in montane forest up to about 1800 m above sea level.
Species of sect. Spatulata are often called antelope dendrobiums, because many have erect, twisted petals that are usually longer than the sepals, resembling two horns. With their large flowers, often produced in generous quantities (at least under optimal conditions) these are among the showiest orchids of New Guinea. On the other hand they are not very common in cultivation in temperate areas, as many species can become very large and require much warmth and light. Sect. Spatulata is clearly related to sect. Phalaenanthe, as demonstrated by the existence of numerous hybrids involving both sections.