1. Family: Orchidaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Bulbophyllum Thouars
      1. Bulbophyllum macranthum Lindl.

        During the warmer months, Bulbophyllum macranthum bears large, solitary flowers with an exotic, sweet perfume. The bright flowers are somewhat variable in colour and are unusual in that they are held upside-down in comparison to the majority of orchids. Instead of being resupinate (twisted so that the lip is borne upside-down), the lip is held at the top of the flower (non-resupinate).


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Bulbophyllum macranthum is an epiphytic orchid from southeast Asia, with long, creeping rhizomes and large, sweetly-scented, fly-pollinated flowers.

    The bright flowers are somewhat variable in colour and are unusual in that they are held upside-down in comparison to the majority of orchids. Instead of being resupinate (twisted so that the lip is borne upside-down), the lip is held at the top of the flower (non-resupinate).

    Bulbophyllum macranthum belongs to the Sestochilos section of Bulbophyllum, the largest orchid genus in the world. Section Sestochilos contains about 23 species, most of which have one-flowered inflorescences and rather showy flowers with relatively large petals; species in this section often have thick, long-creeping rhizomes.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Bulbophyllum macranthum is native to Assam (India), Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nicobar Islands, Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Philippines, Sulawesi, Moluccas, New Guinea and Solomon Islands. It is common in parts of this range, for example on the Nicobar Islands, but rare in others.

    In some areas it can be confused with similar-looking species ( B. praetervisum in Borneo, which differs in having a pair of downward-pointing teeth on the column, and B. grandifolium in New Guinea, which differs in having a triangular, rather than quadrangular, basal part of the lip).

    Bulbophyllum macranthum grows in a very wide range of habitats, and has been collected in primary and secondary, evergreen, semi-deciduous and deciduous, broadleaf and coniferous, lowland to montane forests.


    A robust, creeping, epiphytic (growing on other plants) orchid, with a rhizome 4–5 mm thick, which is covered with sheaths that break down leaving persistent fibres about 2 cm long. The pseudobulbs are about 3 cm tall and each bears a single 10–25 cm long, thick leathery leaf. The flowers are solitary, sometimes over 4 cm in diameter, and have fleshy, shiny sepals and petals. The dorsal sepals and petals are whitish with dense purple spotting and the lateral sepals are ochre-yellow, spotted with purple. 

    The British botanist Henry N. Ridley (1855-1956) described the flowers as smelling of cloves, while some have said they smell faintly of camphor.

    Bulbophyllum macranthum is pollinated by fruit flies ( Bactrocera species).

    Threats and conservation

    Many epiphytes have undergone a dramatic population decline, mainly because of habitat loss and timber extraction activities, which have driven many species close to extinction. Forests in parts of the region where Bulbophyllum macranthum occurs have been heavily logged, degraded and fragmented.

    Bulbophyllum macranthum is a very attractive orchid, popular with hobbyists, and hence populations may suffer as a result of collection of individuals from the wild for the horticultural trade. The continued collection of Bulbophyllum macranthum in logged and secondary forests suggests that it is able to regenerate and persist in disturbed and secondary vegetation.

    The species is currently listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora  (CITES), meaning that international trade in it is controlled through permits.

    Conservation assessments carried out by Kew

    Bulbophyllum macranthum is being monitored as part of the 'Sampled Red List Index' project, which aims to produce conservation assessments for a representative sample of the world’s plant species. This information will then be used to monitor trends in extinction risk and help focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.


    Bulbophyllum macranthum is cultivated as an ornamental by orchid enthusiasts.

    This species at Kew

    Bulbophyllum macranthum is grown in the behind-the-scenes Tropical Nursery at Kew and can sometimes be seen on display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

    Dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Bulbophyllum macranthum are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world by appointment. The details of some of these can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
    Lowland to montane forests.
    Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria. Listed on CITES Appendix II.

    None known.



    Found In:

    Assam, Borneo, Cambodia, Jawa, Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Philippines, Solomon Is., Sulawesi, Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam

    Bulbophyllum macranthum Lindl. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 2005 Kerr, A.F.G. [375], Thailand K000482190
    Jan 1, 2005 New Guinea 27744.000
    Jan 1, 2005 Hassan [101], Malaysia K000483452
    Jan 1, 2005 Robinson, H.C. [s.n.], Malaysia K000483453
    Jan 1, 2005 New Guinea 25205.000
    Jan 1, 2005 Myanmar 14741.000
    Feb 1, 1998 Yong, R. [84], Malaysia 70791.000
    Mitchell, R. [55], Solomon Is. 50797.000
    Clive Jermy, A. [14277], Malaysia 44230.000
    Kulip, J. [140809], Sabah K000364984
    s.coll. [s.n.], Thailand K000483454
    [Rnoiley] [1490], Singapore K000483455
    Hunt, P.F. [2249], Solomon Is. 28303.000
    Douglas, G. [K17], Solomon Is. 31688.000

    First published in Edwards's Bot. Reg. 30: t. 13 (1844)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] (2016) Turczaninowia 19: 5-58
    • [2] (2015) Malesian Orchid Journal 15: 53-60
    • [3] Vermeulen, J., O'Byrne, P. & Lamb, A. (2015) Bulbophyllum of Borneo . Nautural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu
    • [4] (2010) Die Orchidee. Hamburg-Othmarschen & Hamburg 61: 410-417
    • [6] Sittisujjatham, S. (2009) Wild Orchid of Thailand 2: 1-463. Amarin
    • [7] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • [9] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [12] Govaerts, R. (1996) World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. MIM, Deurne


    • [5] Romand-Monnier, F. (2009). Bulbophyllum macranthum. Assessment using IUCN Categories and Criteria 3.1 (IUCN 2001). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [8] Gutpa, S. et al. (2004). Orchid diversity of Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve. Curr. Sci. 86: 1372-1376.
    • [10] Clarke, A.R. et al. (2002). Evidence of orchid visitation by Bactrocera species (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Papua New Guinea. J. Trop. Ecol.18: 441-448.
    • [11] Keng, H. et al. (1998). The Concise Flora of Singapore: Monocotyledons. Singapore University Press.


    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
    [A] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [B] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [D] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0