Thelymitra pulcherrima (Northern Queen of Sheba)

Scientific Name

Thelymitra pulcherrima Jeanes

Common Names

Northern Queen of Sheba, Queen of Sheba, Queen of the Orchids

Scientific Classification

Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Subtribe: Thelymitrinae
Genus: Thelymitra


Color: Pink and red-yellow
Bloom Time: Winter


Thelymitra pulcherrima is a small, up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall, cold terrestrial orchid with a single upright leaf, broad, lobed, purplish, and twisted into a spiral. It blooms in winter with an erect flower spike, up to 13.8 inches (35 cm) long with 1 to 7 flowers, up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) in diameter. The flowers usually have three pink petals and three red-yellow sepals.

Thelymitra pulcherrima (Northern Queen of Sheba)


USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

They are known as "Sun Orchids" because the colorful flowers of most species only open fully on warm, sunny days, with the desert species requiring more heat than those from temperate areas.

Sun Orchids can be very tricky in cultivation. However, most are fairly amenable, and some are very easy. All plants are summer dormant and rest as tuberoids. Plants emerge in late summer and flower in late winter, spring, and early summer.

Culture as sunny as possible. In milder climates, garden culture is possible. Frost hardy up to 23°F (-5°C). Regular watering during the growing period is essential. Fertilize monthly until flowering. Reduce watering with the onset of flowers and stop as the leaves die back. Completely dry during dormancy. Occasionally a light spray of water for small plants and seedlings to prevent dehydration. If grown inside, move plants temporarily outside in late summer as cool nights and some rain will stimulate plants into the new growing season. See more at How to Grow and Care for Sun Orchids.


Native to Western Australia.


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