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HELMET ORCHID (Corybas barbarae)
Biodiversity > Plants > Orchids

Corybas barbarae

Corybas barbarae    Helmet orchid      Family ORCHIDACEAE


A dwarf terrestrial herb with a single ground hugging, heart shaped leaf and a single white and purple flower. From September to March the leaf is absent, and the plant exists as a small, underground, dormant tuberoid. One of the small terrestrial orchids known as helmet orchids, because of the shape of the flower. Just 2cm tall it is inconspicuous and was only found on Lord Howe in 1988. Rare, known only from one colony on the Malabar to Kim's Lookout Ridge. Also found southern Queensland. The genus has about 100 species; distributed in Northern India, Southern China, Malaya, Polynesia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia (20 species).


Single leaf, heart shaped, 2cm X 2cm, green on top, reddish purple under, clasping the stem. Flower (May-Jun) one relatively large flower, 15mm X 9mm, on a short stalk, whitish with purple streaks; the dorsal sepal large, arching over and enclosing the labellum lamina. When fertilised the ovary swells and after about 7 weeks the stalk suddenly elongates to 12cm, placing the seed pod high up before splitting longitudinally to release the minute seeds. 



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