Grammatophyllum speciosum Blume

Etymology Genus Greek: (gramma) letter, (phyllon) leaf, referring to markings on the flower parts that resemble writing
Species Showy
Family Orchidaceae
Synonyms Grammatophyllum giganteum Blume ex Rchb.f.
Common Names Tiger Orchid
Status Native: Presumed Extinct
Form Herb
Native Distribution Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo


An epiphytic plant that can grow into large clumps. The pseudobulbs are yellow in colour and stem-like with many nodes. The narrow leaves can grow up to 100 cm long. The flowers can be up to 10 cm in diameter, and are a striking yellow with numerous dark brown spots--a pattern that gives the plant its common name. The inflorescence can be 2 m in length.

Interesting Facts:

Also known as the 'Queen of Orchids', this is one of the largest orchid species in the world, with stems of mature plants able to grow up to several metres long. The Hyde Park in London once exhibited a plant that weighed up to 2000 kg! The clump in the Singapore Botanic Gardens at the 'Curtain of Roots Walk' is also of note--having been planted in 1861, it is thought to be the world's oldest orchid.

Another name that this plant is known by is 'Sugar Cane Orchid', because the leaves are thought to resemble those of the sugar cane plant. Mature plants flower every two to four years, and the flowers can last for two months. The flowers are known to be pollinated by Carpenter bees (Xylocopa species).

While locally presumed extinct, the National Parks Board has been actively planting them around our parks and streetscapes.

Growing as an epiphyte on a tembusu tree.

Clustering growth form, displaying the yellow pseudobulbs.

The brown markings on the yellow petals make for a striking pattern that resemble a tiger's stripes.

A developing fruit pod with the petals still intact.

Mature fruit pods, plump and suspended on a long infructescence stalk.


Kew Species Profiles (n.d.) Grammatophyllum speciosum Blume. Plants of the World Online Accessed on 16-Jan-2018

Author: Louise
Posted: 2018-01-16 / Modified: 2018-01-20