General Description:

Corybas is a genus of about 100 species of terrestrial orchids of which about 20 occur in Australia. Recent taxonomic revision of terrestrial orchid species has resulted in the reclassification of many species into different genera. Corybas fimbriata is now recognised as Corysanthes fimbriata by some authorities but the change has not met with universal approval. The name Corybas fimbriatus is still regarded as the valid name in the Australian Plant Census.

Corybas species are very distinctive orchids because of their relatively large, purplish-red “helmet-shaped” flowers. Corybas fimbriatus has a single basal leaf which is oval in shape up to 25 mm long. The 25-30 mm diameter flowers occur singly and are seen in late autumn and winter. The plants become dormant in summer when they die back to an underground tuber.

Although C.fimbriatus is more easily grown 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 active growing period after flowering. In cultivation, the flowers may abort before fully opening if there is insufficient humidity in the growing environment. When the plants become dormant in summer, repotting of tubers can be carried out.

For further information on terrestrial orchid cultivation see Australia’s Native Orchids by Les Nesbitt and the guide produced by the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS).

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.


Plant profile image

Corybas fimbriatus
Photo: John Emms


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