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Range of Thelymitra graminea
Range of Thelymitra graminea.

Shy Sun Orchid
Thelymitra graminea Lindl. 1840


The Shy Sun Orchid is endemic to south-western WA, where it can be found south-west of a line from Perth to Israelite Bay. It is common and widespread in forests and woodlands, thriving in both sandy and lateritic soils. Shy Sun Orchids are often found growing together with the Scented Sun Orchid (Thelymitra macrophylla) and the Queen Orchid (Thelymitra crinita), all of which flower at about the same time of the year in mid spring.

From the very similar Scented Sun Orchid (Thelymitra macrophylla) the Shy Sun Orchid is most easily distinguished through its long, slender leaf which is much narrower than the broad leaf of the Scented Sun Orchid. In addition, the flowers of the Shy Sun Orchid are somewhat smaller, and the plants are generally shorter with fewer flowers (typically less than ten). There are minor differences in the morphology and colour of the column between the two species as well.

Other similar-looking species include the Plain Sun Orchid (Thelymitra paludosa), which occurs in the higher-rainfall areas of south-western WA and flowers slightly later during the summer, and the Granite Sun Orchid (Thelymitra petrophila), which is the most common blue-flowered Sun Orchid across WA’s Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions and is usually found in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops.


Thelymitra graminea
View of a single, deep blue flower. (Whittaker, WA, 28 / 10 / 2018)
Thelymitra graminea
Large specimens can have up to ten flowers. (West Coolup, WA, 13 / 10 / 2013)
Thelymitra graminea
Close-up view of the characteristic column with its bright yellow tip and white tufts. (West Coolup, WA, 13 / 10 / 2013)
Thelymitra graminea
Another view of the characteristic column. (Whittaker, WA, 28 / 10 / 2018)
Thelymitra graminea
The flowers are slightly smaller than those of the similar Scented Sun Orchid (Whittaker, WA, 28 / 10 / 2018). (Jarrahdale, WA, 03 / 11 / 2017)
Thelymitra graminea
Shy Sun Orchids usually grow in small colonies. (Leeuwin–Naturaliste NP, WA, 12 / 10 / 2014)
Thelymitra graminea
The Shy Sun Orchid is most easily distinguished from the Scented Sun Orchid (Thelymitra macrophylla) by its narrow leaf. (Jarrahdale, WA, 26 / 10 / 2019)