Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Phalaenopsis amabilis (L.) Blume var. grandiflora

Frost-tender, epiphytic orchid with semi-pendant, oval leaves, to 50cm long, and pendant racemes of numerous white flowers, to 10cm across, with yellow-margined lips and red throat markings, from autumn to spring.  To 30cm.  Grandiflora has larger flowers and the base of the labellum is stained with golden yellow.  The leaves tend to be broader and paler than the type.  [RHSE, Hortus, Pridgeon, Blombery, Jennings]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

Phalaenopsis amabilis, the largest flowered species in the genus, is the parent of most modern hybrids.  ‘This very rare and beautiful epiphyte flowered a few weeks since in the Epiphyte House of Messrs. Rollinsons of Tooting, I believe for the first time in Europe.  It had been sent to them from Manilla by Mr. Cumming.’  [BR f.34/1838].  John Lindley commented in The Gardeners Chronicle that Phalaenopsis grandiflora ‘was not supposed to be a distinct species from the well known P. amabilis, but was regarded merely as a fine variety.  Upon a comparison of it with the Manilla species, it proves, however, to possess so many points of difference that no doubt can be entertained of its being really distinct.’  [GC p.39/1848].  Phalaenopsis grandiflora was introduced to Britain in 1847 from Java.  [JD].  ‘It is a native of Java, and said to have been introduced to Europe by Messrs. Veitch and Sons, of the Nurseries, Exeter and Chelsea.  Our figure is taken from a fine flowering specimen in the Royal Gardens of Kew.’  [BM t.5184/1860].  MB p.49/1840.  FS p.85/1845.

History at Camden Park

This plant first appeared as a hand written entry in a copy of the 1850 catalogue held at the Mitchell Library.  This copy bears William Macarthur’s signature.  It was incorrectly placed in the 1857 edition among the trees and shrubs [T.745/1857].  Macarthur requested Phalaenopsis amabilis from Loddiges’ nursery on 1st February, 1849, the first record, although it was probably not received at this time [MP A2933-1, p.185].  At least one plant of Phalaenopsis was obtained from the Sydney Botanic Garden on 17th October 1853 [RBGS AB].  It may well have been P. grandiflora.


Phalaenopsis amabilis  is often stated as having been recorded from Australia.  Such plants are probably Phalaenopsis rosenstromii F.M.Bailey, synonym Phalaenopsis amabilis var. rosenstromii (F.M.Bailey) Nicholls from northern Queensland, a rare and endangered species.  [Jones].  This is unlikely to be Macarthur’s plant.

Published Jan 26, 2010 - 03:30 PM | Last updated Jan 26, 2010 - 03:37 PM

Figured is a leaf and pendant raceme of large white flowers with red-spotted throat.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.5184, 1860.

Phalaenopsis amabilis (L.) Blume var. grandiflora | BM t.5184/1860 | BHL

Family Orchidaceae
Region of origin

Philippines to Indonesia

  • Phalaenopsis grandiflora Lindl.
Common Name

Moth orchid

Name in the Camden Park Record

Phalaenopsis grandiflora 

Confidence level medium