This terrestrial Orchid is found from Namibia southwards along the South African west and south coasts. It also grows in parts of the Karoo. Bartholina etheliae is considered vulnerable because of habitat reduction.
There are only two species of Bartholina, the other being Bartholina burmanniana with very similar appearance, but lacking the tiny spherical knobs at the tips of the lip segments. These unusual needle-like segments characterising the members of this small genus may be either white or purple in the case of Bartholina etheliae (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok 2010).