Lyperanthus suaveolens

Distribution Map
Family: Orchidaceae
Distribution: Widespread in south eastern Australia from coastal areas to adjacent ranges.
Common Name: Brown beaks.
Derivation of Name: Lyperanthus...From Greek lyperos, mounful and anthos, a flower, referring to dull coloured flowers of some species.
suaveolens...From Latin, suaveolens, sweet-scented, referring to the aroma of the flowers.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Lyperanthus is a small genus of 4 species, all of which occur only in Australia.

Lyperanthus suaveolens
Lyperanthus suaveolens
Photo: Jill Dark

Lyperanthus suaveolens has a single, linear leaf up to 20 cm long. Flower stems are up to 45 cm tall bearing between 2 and 8 greenish-yellow to brown flowers each about 30mm diameter. Flowering occurs in spring and the plants become dormant in summer when they die back to an underground tuber. The flowers have a strong perfume which is particularly noticeable on warm days.

Although L.suaveolens is a little easier to grow than many other terrestrial orchids, it is cultivated mainly by orchid enthusiasts. Generally the plants are grown in pots in a freely draining, sandy mix. They require good air circulation in a protected position of about 50% sun during the growing period from late summer. During this growing period the plants must not be allowed to dry out. After the leaves have died back to the tuber, the pots are allowed to dry out completely.

For further information on terrestrial orchid cultivation see Australia's Native Orchids by Les Nesbitt.

Propagation of orchids requires specialised methods and is rarely attempted by the casual grower. The following references provide further information on growing terrestrial orchids from seed.

  • Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; D K McIntyre, G J Veitch and J W Wrigley
  • A New Medium for Raising Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; G J Veitch and D K McIntyre

Both articles appear in Australian Plants, journal of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), March 1973.


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