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Species profile—Phaius australis


Plantae (plants) → Equisetopsida (land plants) → OrchidaceaePhaius australis

Photo of Phaius australis () - Queensland Herbarium, DES,2002
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Species details

Plantae (plants)
Equisetopsida (land plants)
Scientific name
Phaius australis F.Muell.
WildNet taxon ID
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) status
Conservation significant
Wetland status
Wetland Indicator Species
Pest status
Phaius species are the largest ground orchids in Australia and are commonly called swamp orchids. Phaius australis plants have a partially buried bulb-like structure at their base, about 7cm in diameter, which bears up to 7 leaves. Leaves are tapered at each end, and grow up to 1.25m long and 10cm wide. The leaves are dark green, thin-textured, wavy in appearance and spread in a tussock.
The flowering stem can reach 2m in height and bears 4-16 large and spectacular flowers. Flowers are 10-15cm in diameter, cinnamon-brown to brick-red on the inside, white on the outside and can have yellow veins. The colour of the central large petal ranges from yellow to bright purple. Pods are large, 3 chambered capsules, splitting when ripe to release numerous fine white seeds. (Barker 1995)
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Phaius australis grows in areas where soils are almost always damp, but not flooded for lengthy periods. Sands are generally the underlying soil type. P. australis are usually found in coastal habitats between swamps and forests or in suitable areas further inland. This includes swampy sclerophyll forest dominated by melaleucas, swampy forest that often have scleorphyll emergents, or fringing open forest and melaleuca swamp forest associated with rainforest species. P. australis has also been recorded in wallum, sedgeland, rainforest and closed forest. They often grow in deep shade, but can also occur in full sun. This species occurs at higher altitudes in northern Queensland. (Barker 1995)
The flowering season of Phaius australis is mainly between August and December. Flowers are long lasting and open progressively so that a plant is in flower for several weeks. Both cross and self pollination have been documented, but the exact breeding system is unknown. Seedlings have only been found in relatively open areas. (Barker 1995)
Threatening processes
Collecting, draining of habitat for housing, agriculture, sand mining and related infra-structure, peat mining, golf courses etc.
Management documents
Conservation and management of protected plants in trade in Queensland 1995-1998. Department of Environment.
Contributors: Weslawa Misiak 10/09/1998; Peter Bostock, Mellisa Mayhew 13/03/2009
Barker, M. (1995). Phaius australis, in Species Management Manual. Department of Natural Resources, Brisbane.
Clements, M.A. (1989). Catalogue of Australian Orchidaceae. Australian Orchid Research 1: 1-160.
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008). Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Accessed 10/10/2008.
Dockrill, A.W. (1992). Australian Indigenous Orchids. Volume 1 & 2. Surrey Beatty & Sons in association with The Society for Growing Australian Plants, Chipping Norton, NSW.
Herbrecs (2008). Phaius australis, in BriMapper version 2.12. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 10/10/2008.
Profile author
Peter Bostock (13/03/2009)

Other resources

Data source

This profile data is sourced from the QLD Wildlife Data API using the Get species by ID function used under CC-By 4.0.

This information is sourced from the WildNet database managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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Last updated
20 May 2024