#CreatureFeature – Thelymitra pulcherrima (Northern Queen of Sheba)

Each year around August and September, the Northern Agricultural Region begins to bloom in colours of all kinds. Wildflowers bring fencelines and road verges to life, and people travel from far and near to catch a glimpse of our stunning orchids!

Thelymitra pulcherrima, commonly called the northern Queen of Sheba, is a species of orchid in the family Orchidaceae. The specific epithet (pulcherrima) is a Latin word meaning “prettiest”, referring to the show stopping colours of this orchid.

The Northern Queen of Sheba can be found north of Perth in sandy soils on the coastal plain. These plants usually have 1-3 flowers, which have three pink petals and three red-yellow sepals.

They grow to up to 15 cm tall and bloom in winter with a long flower spike, up to 35 cm long. The flowers can grow up to 3.5cm. This orchid only opens fully on warm, sunny days. It is native to Western Australia.

Thelymitra pulcherrima grows with shrubs in open areas between Lancelin and Dongara in the Geraldton Sandplains biogeographic region. Thelymitra pulcherrima is classified as “Priority Two” by the Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife meaning that it is poorly known and from only one or a few locations.

Phoebe Royce – Communications Officer

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