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8 Aug 2019

60 year old orchid's one week to shine

A magnificent orchid over 60 years old is now flowering in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for one week only.

The Rat’s Tail or Thin Pencil Orchid, or more appropriately known as the Bridal Veil orchid this time of year (Dendrobium teretifolium), has just started to flower in the old Port Jackson fig, near the Palm House.
 
Visitors can see the Rat Tail Orchid just in front of the Palm House, inside Woolloomooloo Gates
Visitors can view the orchid in bloom next to the Palm House just inside Woolloomooloo Gates
 
The orchid is known as a Rat’s Tail when not flowering due to the shape of its leaves. However, once a year it magically transforms into the 'Bridal Veil' orchid when it bursts into flower and its leaves are hidden behind a profusion of white or cream flowers.
 
Rat Tail Orchid
Close up of the Rat's Tail Orchid in bloom

Visitors need to look high into the canopy to see the pendulous white flowers flowering from this spectacular orchid. Fittingly, the orchid is located next to one of Garden’s oldest glasshouse and favoured wedding venues, the Palm House, designed by James Barnett in 1876. 
 
The species was described by Scottish Botanist Robert Brown in 1810, and our specimen was donated to the Garden in 1988 from a private collector who said he collected the plant in 1959.

This orchid grows naturally in rainforest and humid open forest mostly in near-coastal districts in New South Wales and Queensland.
 
Rat Tail Orchid
 

Did you know? The orchid can be a lithophyte (grows on rock) or epiphyte (grows on trees). As an epiphyte it is most commonly found on Casuarina glauca (Swamp She-Oak) or Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop Pine)!

To see this magnificent orchid in bloom and learn more about it, book into the Garden’s new Behind the Scenes Sensory Tour or join a free guided walk. All tours depart from the Garden Shop Visitor Centre. 
 
Like to know what else is flowering across the Garden during August? Each month our wonderful Volunteer Guides create a Must See experience of the Garden showcasing what is flowering and featuring a plant of the month.
 
For August they have selected a path of discovery that reflects the diversity of our living plant collection, and a chance to admire more along the way. You can also stop in and see our unique fauna featured in the Wild Things exhibition at Lion Gate Lodge

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