Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

January 18, 2017: Botany Photo of the Day is being actively worked on. Returning soon!

Dendrobium speciosum

Dendrobium speciosum
Dendrobium speciosum

A kind thank you to Margaret Morgan of Sydney, Australia for sharing today's image. You can see Margaret's preferred crop of this image on this page, but she gave me permission to select a different crop for one of the standard sizes I use for BPotD (so thanks again). I enjoy Margaret's web site quite a bit (since I seem to agree with her on many things), so you might like to visit it as well: Margaret Morgan. Much appreciated, Margaret.

The common name for this orchid is yet another of those lateral-thinking-required misnomers ̵ rock lily. I suppose it is relatively easy to see a superficial resemblance to a lily inflorescence when looking at the mass of flowers. A closer look at each individual flower, however, reveals it is indeed an orchid (and to be fair, some sites do suggest “rock orchid” as a preferred common name).

The “rock” part of the common name is entirely fitting, however. Dendrobium speciosum is often found growing on rocks (hence it is a lithophyte), though it can also be epiphytic (growing on other plants). It is known as one of the showiest orchids in the world, as I'll assert is well-detailed by Margaret's second photograph.

Two excellent pages worth investigating if you'd like to learn more are Dendrobium speciosum from the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants and the Dendrobium speciosum complex from the Australasian Native Orchid Society.

Photography resource link: I continue to enjoy Alain Briot's essays: Of Cameras and Art via The Luminous Landscape. Also, read the follow-up essay from one of his readers, David White.


Well, colour me chuffed, Daniel, for the lovely reference to my website.

As for the Dendrobium, I just wish Web-Smell existed!



Spectacular bloom. Good job Margaret.

That looks huge! How tall is it?

The wild version appears to be no different from the cultivated, although they tend to grow larger when cultivated.

It's not so big, Elaine. This specimen is around 30-40cm tall. The flowers are tiny, less than 2mm in width.

We have one of these beautiful orchids!! We are so excited, because it is getting ready to bloom. We live in Nokomis, FL approximately 1 mile from the Gulf of Mexico. We have a small pond (800 gallons) with a 15 foot stream and the orchid (I divided into two plants) in teak baskets over the waterfall. We inherited the orchid last year. It was so over grown, I divided into 3 plants total (I gave one to a friend)It is hanging from a slatted arbor. When I got the orchid, I didn't know what it was, so I had it identified by Stig Dahlstom from Selby Gardens, Sarasota FL.

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