Phaius tancarvilleae

Native: a species of orchid found in India, New Guinea, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia; in Australia it is found as far south as Brunswick Heads, New South Wales and further north in tropical Queensland; listed as endangered by extinction
Type: terrestrial; habitat is swampy forest or grassland
Size: each flower is 2 3/4 to 5 inches across
Flowering: the showy, fragrant flowers grow in clusters along erect stalks up to four feet tall; bloom in spring lasting 4 to 6 weeks; flower is wide open when young and drooping with age
Colors: tepals are brown, burgundy or rose on front contrasted with white on back; labellum can be pink, rose or yellow
Flowering stem: basal; produces tall spikes of showy flowers; flower stalks to 4 1/4 feet bear up to 16 flowers
Growth pattern: sympodial
Pseudobulb: the inflorescences arise from pseudobulbs; there are 2 to 6 leaves per pseudobulb
Roots: roots are terrestrial
Known for: fragrant and long-lasting flowers; abundance of flowers per stalk; common name Nun's Cap Orchid
History: In 1778, John Fothergill brought this orchid back from China to England. Later, Joseph Banks named the plant in honor of Lady Emma Tankerville, as the orchid flowered in her greenhouse at Walton-on-Thames near London. The species name refers to the origin of Emma's married name of Tankerville which is the town of Tancarville in Normandy, France.

The flower of P. tancarvilleae has a pink-tipped labellum (tubular lip petal) and 5 oblong-lanceolate tepals (3 petal-like sepals and 2 lateral petals) that are white outside and generally brown inside. The labellum completely encloses the column.