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.

Calanthe triplicata (Willemet) Ames

Evergreen ground orchid with thick, short pseudobulbs, pleated leaves and upright inflorescence bearing pure white, crucifix-like flowers in summer.  [Jones].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘A greenhouse terrestrial Orchid from New Holland, with white flowers changing to buff.  Flowers in September.  Reintroduced by Mr. C. Moore, Superintendent of the Botanic Garden, Sydney.

This plant was originally found by the late Allan Cunningham in August 1822; whilst on an excursion to the Illawarra, a coast district on the south of Port Jackson, he met with a plant in dark shaded woods, which he introduced to Kew in the following year, considering it a Bletia.  It soon afterwards flowered in that collection, and was then ascertained to differ in no material respect from the plant of the Indian Archipelago.  Both have been in flower together, and on examination of the two plants, no difference has been discovered, excepting that the Australian plant is not so purely white in the flower as the one from India.  Mr. D. Moore of the Glasnevin Gardens, who has recently received live plants from his brother, is of opinion that “the spur is shorter, and the flowers more compact than those of C. veratrifolia. The leaves are also shorter and the plant is hardier, having stood in a cool greenhouse all the season and flowered nicely.”  We cannot however say that the flowers with which Mr. Moore sas favoured us exhibit any appreciable structural difference, and we must therefore continue to leave the plant as a mere geographical variety.’  [PFG vol.2, p.132/1853].

Figured in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine as Calanthe veratrifolia (Willd.) R.Br. ex Lindl. [BM t.2615/1826]  and under the same name in the Botanical Register [BR f.720/1823].  

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [O.5/1850].


Calanthe australasica and Calanthe triplicata are regarded as separate species by some authors.

This plant could be a form of Spiranthes sinensis (Pers.) Ames, which see, possibly a rare all white variety, or differing in some other way from the more common pink formThree species endemic to Australia remain unnamed.  [Jones]. 

Published Jan 24, 2010 - 01:36 PM | Last updated Jul 28, 2010 - 03:45 PM

Shown are pseudo bulbs, leaves and flower spike with pure white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2615/1826.

Calanthe veratrifolia (Willd.) R.Br. ex Lindl. | BM t.2615/1826 | BHL

Family Orchidaceae
Region of origin

Australia to tropical Asia

  • Calanthe australasica D.L.Jones & M.A.Clem.
  • Calanthe veratrifolia (Willd.) R.Br. ex Lindl.
  • Calanthe australis Hort.
  • Orchis triplicata Willemet
  • Alismorkis veratrifolia (Willd.) Kuntze
Common Name

Christmas Orchid

Name in the Camden Park Record

Calanthe (?) sp. (Wide Bay)

Confidence level low