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Tongue orchid, Dockrillia linguiformis

Dockrillia linguiformis has sprays of spidery white flowers in Spring

Dockrillia linguiformis flowers – first time in its new and final position

This sweet little orchid, native to the East coast of Australia, has been amazingly forgiving of some pretty harsh treatment, but hopefully it is now in a spot where it can flourish.

It is an epiphyte, growing on a piece of wood on a tree trunk, and has lovely spikes of white flowers in early Spring.

Growing Dockrillia linguiformis

Dockrillia plant (tongue orchid)

The orchid is mounted on a wood round and hung from a tree. In exposed conditions the stems headed left and behind the mount.

I bought this many years ago, fastened with fishing line to a round of wood, and grew it for years in different locations around our Sydney apartment, usually in very sun-exposed but rain-sheltered spots. Consequently it usually had a desiccated appearance, but most years it would send out a brave spike of flowers. Now finally I have it hanging on a tree trunk, where it gets some shade, plenty of rain and all the morning mist.

Dockrillia linguiformis grows naturally on rocks or tree trunks, and looks like a plant adapted to dry spells. The leaves, which give it the ‘tongue orchid’ name, are fleshy and rounded, and although they start off smooth and full, they wrinkle up if the plant dries out, and get a reddish protective tinge in strong sunlight. The leaves grow off running stems which stay tightly on the growth medium, and as with most epiphytes, the roots either press into the wood support or sit free in the air to catch dew.

Dockrillia linguiformis

A side view, showing the flower spike coming out from behind the mount.

My plant was too exposed in its old locations, and consequently grew around the back of the support mount where the leaves were shaded. Now that it’s better shaded and gets more water, I’m hoping it will rediscover the front of its mount. Nevertheless it has flowered again this year, with two spikes. The flowers are delicate and small, although a big plant can make a spectacular display. I’m always keen to see those spikes appear in late Winter.

It will be interesting to see how it responds to its first full Summer now that it is acclimated to its tree.

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