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#ThreatenedThursday: Cooktown Orchid

#ThreatenedThursday: Cooktown Orchid

January 27, 2022


SPECIES: Dendrobium bigibbum — Cooktown Orchid

CLASSIFICATION: Vulnerable


In the late 1950’s the Queensland government was looking for an easily grown floral species found only in Queensland and was similar in colour to the state colour - maroon. The Cooktown Orchid was publicly supported as the favourite in a newspaper poll and so, in 1959, the Cooktown Orchid was proclaimed as the floral emblem of Queensland. [Short history lesson: Cooktown refers to the town in northern Queensland which lies within distribution of the species on the Endeavour River, named by Captain Cook after his ship was repaired there in 1770].


The Cooktown Orchid grows on rocks, on trees, in coastal scrub, near rivers, in swamps and in open forest - it isn’t particular to one specific habitat, yet this still hasn’t saved it from becoming a threatened species. Possbily the largest threat - and more than likely largely due to it’s official status - is illegal collection of the species. Fire, distrubance by cattle/pigs and weeds are other threats to Queensland’s state floral emblem.