Skip links and keyboard navigation

Species profile—Dendrobium bigibbum (Orchidaceae)


Plantae (plants) → EquisetopsidaOrchidaceaeDendrobium bigibbum

Sighting data

KML | CSV | GeoJson

Species details

Plantae (plants)
Dendrobium bigibbum
Alternate name
Cooktown orchid
Taxonomy Author
Nature Conservation Act (NCA) status
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) status
Back on Track (BoT) status
Dendrobium bigibbum is one of a group of Dendrobium species that are collectively known as the Cooktown orchid. It forms small to medium sized slender clumps on trees and rocks. Clumps consist of a number of erect, cylindrical stems which are slightly swollen in the middle with rounded bases. The stems are green or purplish and can reach a height of 1.2m and a width of 15mm. When the stems are young they are covered in papery bracts (very small scale-like leaves). There are 3-12 leaves on the upper part of the stem. Leaves are narrowly ovate, 5-15cm long by 0.5-3.5cm wide and dark green but often with purplish margins or heavily suffused with purple. The arching flower stems can reach 40cm and bear 2-20 flowers.
The flowers are pansy-like and usually lilac purple, although may sometimes be white, bluish or pinkish. The flowers are 3-5cm wide and the petals generally curve backwards. The petal that projects forwards is called the labellum and has three lobes. The two outer lobes curve upwards and overlap to form a column. The middle lobe is projected forward, curves downward and has a spot with prominent ridges covered by dense white hairs. (Barker 1997; DEWHA 2008)
Dendrobium bigibbum grows on the branches of small trees in scrubby habitats, such as semi-deciduous vine forest and vine thickets, where fire cannot penetrate. It is particularly common in vine scrubs behind beaches and on rocky hillsides. The climate is strongly seasonal with reliable summer rainfall between January and April and a pronounced dry season during winter and spring. (Barker 1997)
In very exposed habitats during the dry season, plants can become completely deciduous and rapidly produce new growth at the onset of the summer wet season. (Barker 1997)
Dendrobium bigibbum flowers from February to October, particularly in March through to August, with flowers lasting for two weeks. (Barker 1997)
Barker, M. (1997). Dendrobium bigibbum/D. phalaenopsis, in Species Management Manual. Department of Natural Resources, Brisbane.
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008). Vappodes bigibba in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Accessed 30/09/2008.
Herbrecs (2008). Dendrobium bigibbum, in BriMapper version 2.12. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 30/09/2008.
Profile author
Peter Bostock
Profile date
Other resources
Atlas of Living Australia

More species information

Get a list of species for your area or find other wildlife information.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 October 2014
  1. Is your feedback about:
  2. (If you chose ‘website’ above)

    Page feedback

    1. How satisfied are you with your experience today? *
  3. (If you chose ‘service’ above)

    Feedback on government services, departments and staff

    Please use our complaints and compliments form.