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  1. S.australis-flower__c__matt_campbell S. australis - Matt Campbell

Butterfly Orchid

Sarcochilus australis


Semi-pendulous epiphytic orchid. 5-15cm across, stems to 5cm long

Leaves: 3-10 thin leathery oblong, sometimes curved, dark green leaves 2-11cm x 4-17mm.

Flowers: 1-4 pendulous sprays of 2-17 pale yellowish-green to brown flowers, lip white with yellow tints and purple stripes. Sepals and petals narrowly spoon-shaped, spreading; lip short, 3-lobed, projecting forward, side lobes broad, erect, curved inwards.

What to Observe


•First fully open single flower

•Full flowering (record all days)

•End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

•Not flowering

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect plants to delay emergence till later and start flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start disappearing in areas, as warmer temperatures suppress growth and development. 

By virtue of their sensitivity to the changes in the climate, epiphytes and orchids provide a forewarning about impending damages and act as bio-indicators.


When To Look

Year round. Flowering time October to December.

Where To Look

Epiphytic on mossy branches and trunks in fern gullies of cool rainforest and tall closed forest. Look in fern gullies and gorges and on stream banks in rainforests. Although scattered and uncommon, it can be locally abundant.

Butterfly Orchid distribution map - GBIF

Butterfly Orchid distribution map - GBIF


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  1. Did You Know?

    Plant hosts in the Morwell National Park are varied. In descending order of importance they include: Pittosporum undulatum, Coprosma quadrifida, Pomaderris aspera, Olearia argophylla, Rapanea howittiana, Cassinia longifolia.