Several other small section Spathulata Dendrobium species grow in the forests of Cape York Peninsula and New Guinea. Only Dendrobium trilamellatum also extends to the Northern Territory. These species can all be found growing alongside Dendrobium canaliculatum in similar conditions, and can be cultivated in roughly the same way as Dendrobium canaliculatum.

The nomenclature of these species is not as contested as for Dendrobium canaliculatum, however there is still academic and amateur debate for some. I have again formed my own interpretation of how these orchids be best classified and similarly to Dendrobium canaliculatum find the work of Clem & Jones (2002) – with several significant qualifications – to most closely match my observations.



 Dendrobium carronii

  • Eastern Cape York Peninsula, north of about Cooktown, into the Torres Strait Islands and southern New Guinea.
  • Prefers higher rainfall, but bright and airy situations.
  • Striking and unique yellow, white and dark maroon flowers, sepals much shorter than the petals.
  • Plants smaller growing than Dendrobium canaliculatum.

Dendrobium foelschei

  • Long considered a variety of Dendrobium canaliculatum, preliminary results of recent genetic work indicates a distinct species.
  • Coastal Northern Territory and parts of the Kimberley area, Western Australia.
  • Dendrobium foelschei found in northwest Cape York, Torres Strait and New Guinea may be identical or different at variety level only.
  • Leaves thinner and longer than Dendrobium canaliculatum, green to grey-green often with dark margins. Pseudobulbs generally thinner than Dendrobium canaliculatum.
  • Flowers pale yellow, light browns, greys, lilacs, purple-grey or purple on tips, whitish base colour. Labellum often yellow with strong purple disk and very pronounced keels. Flowers long, thin, somewhat cupped and typically pendulous (hang down). Racemes also typically floppy to pendulous.

 Dendrobium foelschei (Queensland)

  • From northwest Cape York Peninsula (west coast and inland areas) and Torres Strait Islands.
  • Included as Dendrobium foelschei (canaliculatum var. foelshei) by several authors.
  • Possibly differ from NT plants (type plants of Dendrobium foelschei) at  a colour or botanical variety. level however provided to me on good authority they are overall consistent with NT / WA plants.
  • Adjoins and likely overlaps Dendrobium canaliculatum var. canaliculatum with minimal to no interbreeding .


 Dendrobium johannis

  • Eastern Cape York Peninsula, north of about the Stewart River / Coen, into the Torres Strait Islands and southern New Guinea.
  • Prefers high rainfall and relatively shady habitats (e.g. rainforest margins).
  • Flowers small, strongly scented (unpleasant scent), dark glossy brown to almost black with purple highlights.
  • Plants small growing, to about 30cm, rarely more than several leafed pseudobulbs

 Dendrobium trilamellatum var. semifuscum

  • Cape York Peninsula, north of about the Bloomfield River (south of Cooktown).
  • Occurs further south and west in drier habitats on Cape York than var. trilamellatum.
  • Flowers smaller in all ways than var. trilamellatum, distinct 'two-tone' effect in colouration.
  • Plants grow larger in size than var. trilamellatum under good conditions (to about 100cm in height) however most plants found stunted in drier habitats.

Dendrobium trilamellatum var. trilamellatum

  • Cape York Peninsula, north from about the McIlwraith Range, into the Torres Strait, far northern Northern Territory and southern New Guinea.
  • Occurs more north and east on Cape York Peninsula than var. semifuscum, seems to prefer higher rainfall areas.
  • Flowers larger and in most localities broader than var. semifuscum, coffee-caramel colouration.
  • Plants more compact growing than var. semifuscum, to about 60cm in height. 

Other 'Tea Tree' Orchid Species