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Dendrobium teretifolium R.Br.
Family Orchidaceae
Common name: Rat's Tail Orchid

Dendrobium teretifolium R.Br. APNI*

Synonyms: Dockrillia teretifolia (R.Br.) Brieger APNI*

Description: Epiphyte or epilith with stems spreading to pendent, wiry, rooting only at base of sympodium, 5–15 cm long, 1–4 mm diam., with 1 leaf at apex; roots smooth, creeping.

Leaves pendent, linear, terete, 10–60 cm long, 3–8 mm diam, succulent, smooth.

Inflorescences 4–10 cm long, 4–15-flowered. Sepals and lateral petals white to pale yellow with a few short red or purple striations at the base; dorsal sepal 20–40 mm long, 2–3 mm wide; labellum white to pale yellow, dotted with deep purple, 18–30 mm long, 4–6 mm wide. Column 2–2.5 mm long; column foot 3–5 mm long.

Photo W. Cherry

Flowering: July to October

Distribution and occurrence: Grows almost exclusively on Casuarina glauca but uncommonly also recorded from rainforest trees, chiefly in coastal districts north from near Bega and inland to the upper Hunter Valley.
NSW subdivisions: NC, CC, SC, CT, CWS
Other Australian states: Qld
AVH map***

Dendrobium teretifolium comprises a range of morphotypes, and these have been formally recognised as varieties or species. While there is no doubt that plants of D. teretifolium in south-eastern Australia may differ in flower colour, number of flowers per raceme, and may grow on different host tree species, whether those differences reflect separate species status has not been addressed empirically. Therefore we adopt a conservative stance on the circumscription of D. teretifolium which treats morphotypes in New South Wales as varieties. Publication of empirical evidence supporting separate species status for these varieties will result in their being recognised as such.

Text by P. H. Weston, updated by Matt A.M. Renner
Taxon concept: Flora of NSW 4 (1993)

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Dendrobium teretifolium var. aureum,    Dendrobium teretifolium var. fairfaxii,    Dendrobium teretifolium var. teretifolium

 Key to the varieties 
1Axillary buds prominently protruding, conical; inflorescence with 4 to 15 flowers; flowers mostly lacking prominent dark purple stripes at the base of the lateral sepalsDendrobium teretifolium var. teretifolium
Axillary buds not protruding or protruding slightly, flat to rounded; inflorescence with 1 to 7 flowers; flowers with prominent dark purple stripes at the base of the lateral sepals2
2Flower predominantly yellow; dorsal sepal 2.5–5 cm longDendrobium teretifolium var. aureum
Flower predominantly white to cream; dorsal sepal 2–3.5 cm long
                       Back to 1
Dendrobium teretifolium var. fairfaxii

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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