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Genus Thelymitra

Genus Thelymitra

Thelymitra J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Char. Gen. Pl. (1776) 97, t. 49


  • Genus Macdonaldia Cunn. ex Lindl., Edwards's Bot. Reg. (1839) App.
  • Genus Waireia D.L.Jones, M.A.Clem. & Molloy

Terrestrial plants. Subterranean tuber present. Stem very short,1-leaved. Leaf sheathing at the base, glabrous, dorso-ventrally flattened, not articulate, convolute, herbaceous. Inflorescence terminal, a raceme. Flowers medium-sized, resupinate, variously coloured. Sepals free. Petals free, usually somewhat broader than the sepals. Lip without spur, not mobile, similar to the petals, but often narrower. Column at the apex with two brush-like appendages, column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, sectile, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present.

Species present in New Guinea:

Thelymitra papuana

Java, Timor, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia. About 65 species; in New Guinea one species [Thelymitra papuana J.J.Sm.].

Terrestrial in grasslands and road banks at high elevations.

  • Pridgeon, A. M., P.J. Cribb, M.W. Chase & F.N. Rasmussen (Eds.). 2001. Genera Orchidacearum, Volume 2: Orchidoideae (Part 1). Pp. 205-213. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Subfamily Orchidoideae
  • Tribe Orchideae
  • Subtribe Thelymitrinae
  • Genus Thelymitra

Like Calochilus, Arthrochilus, and Pterostylis, this is a genus that is much more diverse in neighbouring Australia than it is in New Guinea. Thelymitra papuana is a widespread but not very common terrestrial mountain orchid, of which the flowers only open in bright sunshine. The genus is easily recognised by the simple lip, which is similar to the petals, and by the two brush-like appendages at the apex of the column. Several Australian species are quite showy, which can not be said of T. papuana, even if it would open its flowers.

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Genus Thelymitra

Thelymitra papuana J.J.Sm., flower, detail front view, photo Ed de Vogel, based on Leiden cult. 20121266.

Genus Thelymitra

Thelymitra papuana J.J.Sm., habit and floral analysis, drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 68, from Mt. Kaindi