Plants of
South Australia
Caladenia ovata
Ovate Spider-orchid,
Kangaroo Island Spider-orchid
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1

Prior names

Arachnorchis ovata

Phlebochilus ovatus (amend.)

Phlebochilus ovata

Common names

Ovate Spider-orchid

Kangaroo Island Spider-orchid


Caladenia from the Greek 'kallos' meaning beauty and 'aden' meaning a gland, referring to the colourful labellum and the glistening glands at the base of the column that are present in many of the species. Ovata from the Latin 'ovatus' meaning ovate, referring to the broadly ovate labellum, the most distinctive feature of the flower.

Distribution and status

Endemic to South Australia and restricted to Kangaroo Island and the bottom of the Fleurieu Peninsula, growing in open areas in scrubby heath and woodland on lateritic soils. Native. Endangered in South Australia. Vulnerable in Australia (EPBC Act).
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual terrestrial orchid to 30 cm high in flower with a single hairy leaf emerging in spring to 7 cm long. Inflorescence on a hairy slender stem with one (rarely two) red or maroon and sometime yellow flowers. Segments and sepals lanceolate, up pointing with tiny dark glands at the end. Labellum on a tremulous claw, broadly ovate, flat not lobed, margin entire or shortly dentate with its red tip rolled under. Flowering between September and October. Fruits are pale-brown hairy, papery ellipsoid capsule.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between late October and November. Collect fat capsules as they start to dry and turn brown. Pods will split and release the seeds quickly and will require monitoring. To increase the chances of collecting mature pods, it is recommended that a small breathable bag (ie. Organza bags) be used to enclose the developing capsules. Place the capsules in a container that will hold fine seeds and leave to dry for a few weeks or until the capsule split. Then carefully hold the capsule and tap it gently to release the seeds. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place, refrigerator or in liquid nitrogen.

Fire response

Obligate re-spouter and re-seeder.

Longevity: ?? years

Time to flowering: ?? years

Recovery work

In 2020-2021 this species was assessed post-fire in 1 year and 2 year old fire scars. A total of 676,500 seeds have been collected & banked for 2 populations inside the 2020 fire scar. Germination screening testing the response to fire cues will be undertaken in 2021. The project work is supported by the Australian Government through the Wildlife & Habitat Bushfire Recovery program through collaboration with La Trobe University.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA56,000 (0.020 g)514-Nov-2019Boat Harbor Road, Deep Creek CP
Southern Lofty
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.