Plants of
South Australia
Caladenia cardiochila
Heart-lip Spider-orchid,
Thick-lip 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 paintings: 8

Prior names

Arachnorchis cardiochila

Phlebochilus cardiochilus

Caladenia tessellata

Common names

Heart-lip Spider-orchid

Thick-lip Spider-orchid


Caladenia from the Greek 'callos' 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. Cardiochila from the Greek 'kardio' meaning heart and 'cheilos' meaning lip, alluding to the heart-shaped labellum.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, from Eyre Peninsula to the lower South-east growing in a wide range of habitats including mallee, heathland and Callitris forests on sandy well-drained soils. Also found in Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in Victoria.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Variable in size, shape and colour, this species has one of the smallest flowers of the spider-orchids. Plants are 10-30 cm tall with a slender hairy stalk which bears 1 or 2 flowers. A single narrow basal leaf 4-11 cm long appears during late autumn or early winter. Flowers are 20-30 mm across and range in colour from yellowish-green to pink with red striping and spotting. Both sepals and petals lack clubs or glandular hairs and labellum margins are entire. Flowering between August and November. Fruits are brown, papery ellipsoid capsule. Seeds are very small brown ellipsoid seed with a long cylindrical translucent brown mesh-like covering.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and January. 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. For the NVC South East Orchid Project one population consisting of more than five individuals was recorded in Bangham Conservation Park. A total of 100,000 seeds (0.04 g) were banked from this population. Seed viability was estimated at 70%. Seed germination in Caladenia species is difficult without compatible mycorrhizal fungi.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA100,000 (0.038 g)5+20-Sep-2013KHB739
South Eastern
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.