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Plant Collections

Terrestrial Orchids

Plants in family Orchidaceae include some of the most beautiful and amazing plants on the planet. Some are very well known, some find themselves on the verge of extinction, but all are quite fascinating. Some plants in this family have very complex and sophisticated relationships with a number of insects and fungi.
And some of the plants from the orchid family belong to rarest surviving plants on the planet. Some of the species are disappearing fast. Horticulturists and plant scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria continue to propagate and maintain the collections of the most vulnerable species of orchids, a number of which is being re-introduced into their natural habitats.
This Collection is generally not available for public viewing, but some of the plants are on display during the flowering season.

Best Viewed

  • August, September, October


Most Victorian species can be grown in Melbourne. However, they are probably best grown in pots. A dedicated growing area is also strongly recommended.

Plant Census

Find out what plants grow at Melbourne Gardens.

Key Plants

Caladenia venusta × C.tentaculata White spider orchid

Originally growing in woodlands West of Port Phillip Bay, also in Grampians. It used to be quite common. Now it’s extremely rare.

Caladenia robinsonii

Up to 30 cm tall. Flowers mostly red, showy. This orchid is extremely rare and known only from one location in Victoria. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria has been very successful with growing it. Flowers in October.

Diuris fragrantissima Sunshine Diuris

Very handsome plant up to 27 cm tall. Flowers aromatic. It is very rare, restricted to grasslands near Sunshine, West of Melbourne with some presence near Wodonga. Flowers in October/November.

Diuris punctata

This orchid grows to 60 cm tall. There can be up to 10-12 individual purple-coloured flowers in an inflorescence. Still quite abundant in isolated colonies throughout Victoria, also NSW, SA, and Qld.

Curator Notes

  1. Most of the species in the collection are endangered or very rare in the wild.
  2. All of the orchids in our collection have a period of dormancy.
  3. All of the orchids in the collection are in a symbiotic relationship with insects and fungi.


The collection was established in 1979. A large number of terrestrial orchids are critically endangered. In 1985 it was further expanded and supplemented by collecting more orchids for research purposes. The seeds obtained from the collection are used in propagation. Some of the new plants are used in research and some are re-introduced into original habitats.