South African Orchid

South African Orchid.

Common name

South African Orchid

Scientific Name

Disa bracteata 

Type of plant


About this weed

Disa bracteata originated from South Africa and is easily identified by its thick fleshy stem which can grow to 0.4 m high. It was probably introduced as a garden plant and was first recorded near Albany in 1944. It has now spread widely in wetter areas of the south-west of the State.


The South African Orchid is a perennial tuber growing to about 0.4 m in height with flowers held on a fleshy stem in spring. Unlike most native orchids the green & brown flowers are small and nondescript. The stem and leaves are thick and fleshy and reproduction is primarily by tubers and seed. The seedbank persists for 6+ years. The plant dies back after flowering then renews from tubers or seed in autumn.

Impact on Bushland

This weed is fairly common in Banksia and Tuart Woodlands but it’s impact on these woodlands isn’t yet fully understood.


Widely distributed in the South-West Province on white, grey or black sand, sandy clay and granite. It prefers wetter areas and can be found in paddocks and bushland.

Priority for removal

Unknown: but may disrupt ecological processes or may result in loss of biodiversity.

Management (hand)

If hand weeding be very careful to remove all tubers. Small tubers can exist for quite some distance below ground level. Also, try to minimise soil disturbance around the plant.

Management (herbicide)

Spot spray Glyphosate 1% + Pulse® just on flowering. Read the manufacturers’ labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides.

Flowering month/s

October, November

Flower colour/s

Green, Brown

Information source

Additional information

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. and Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia, Second Edition, The Weeds Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park, Western Australia.

South African Orchid images


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Urban Bushland Council WA Inc

2 Delhi Street West Perth WA 6005

PO Box 326 West Perth WA 6872

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