Dendrobium smillieae

Dendrobium smillieae F.Muell., Fragm. 6 (1867) 94.

Type: Dallachy s.n. (Rockingham).

Rhizome short. Stems crowded, erect, cylindrical, tapering to both ends, fleshy, obtusely angled, becoming broadly grooved with age, 25-65 cm by 12-17 mm, many-leaved, internodes 2.5-3.5 cm long, shorter in the upper part of the stem. Leaf sheaths tubular, as long as the internodes, with thin raised lines. Leaves widely patent, lanceolate, sometimes subovate, 6-13.5 by 2.2-4 cm, apex acute, thinly coriaceous, narrowly keeled below. Inflorescences arising laterally from leafless stems, racemose, 6-7 cm long, cylindrical; peduncle 0.8 cm long, rachis angular, densely many-flowered. Floral bracts narrowly triangular, 0.25-0.4 cm long, apex acuminate, acute, concave. Pedicel c. 1 cm long, sigmoid; ovary 0.75-1 cm long, 6-grooved. Flowers patent to recurved, 2.2-2.7 cm long, fleshy. Dorsal sepal ovate, 0.95-1.2 cm by 5.5-6 mm, apex obtuse, finely erose. Lateral sepals obliquely ovate, 0.95-1.2 cm by 7 mm, apex obtuse; mentum spur-like, straight, oblong-obovoid, 1.1 cm long, 0.7 cm wide, dorsally compressed, truncate. Petals obliquely obovate-oblong, 0.9-1.1 cm by 4-5 mm, 3-nerved, apex obtuse. Lip narrow, concave, very fleshy, constricted in the middle, divided by a transverse lamella into a hypochile and an epichile, 1.75-2.1 cm long, base parallel with and shortly adnate to the column-foot, hypochile ovate, flattened 0.8-1 by 0.55 cm, epichile strongly concave, when flattened obtriangular, 1 by 0.9-1 cm when flattened, 0.48-0.5 cm wide in natural position, inside with a slightly thickened longitudinal median band, apex rounded-truncate, on either side with an incurved rounded lobule. Column 0.43-0.45 cm long, clinandrium deeply concave, 3-lobulate, the lateral lobules broad, truncate, the median as long, subulate; stigma oblong-linear, rostellum at it apex with a reversed tooth; column-foot 0.85 cm long, in basal fourth with a deeply transverse groove opposite the transverse lamella on the lip, in apical half widened, strongly concave and provided with a longitudinal keel. Anther cucullate, in front convex, apex truncate, pubescent. Pollinia narrow.
(after Smith, 1909).

Colours: Sepals and petals greenish white, tips green, mentum pale purple, less often greenish white, lip shiny dark green, at the base pale purple or less often greenish white, golden yellow in the middle. Column pale green, anther with dark purple margins; pollinia shiny, dull purple. Leaves shiny, green, when young often dark purple.

Habitat: Epiphyte in lowland rainforest and coastal forest, rarely lithophytic. Altitude 0 to 450 m.

Flowering time in the wild: Almost throughout the year. Flowers last one to two months (fide O'Byrne).

Distribution: New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Aru Islands, Australia (Queensland).

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua (Manokwari, Yapen Waropen, Jayapura, and Merauke Regencies; Misool and Waigeo Islands); Papua New Guinea (Gulf, Sandaun, Madang, Central, and Milne Bay Provinces; New Britain).

Notes: An unmistakable species with its shiny dark green hooded lip. In Australia, and no doubt also in New Guinea, it is pollinated by birds (fide O'Byrne).

Cultivation: Warm growing epiphyte, prefers light but humid conditions and excellent drainage.