Plants of
South Australia
Caladenia leptochila ssp. leptochila
Narrow-lip Spider-orchid,
Queen 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: 2

Prior names

Arachnorchis leptochila ssp. leptochila

Caladenia leptochila, partly

Arachnorchis leptochila, partly

Phlebochilus leptochila

Phlebochilus leptochilus

Common names

Narrow-lip Spider-orchid

Queen 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. Leptochila from the Greek 'leptos' meaning fine, small or thin and 'cheilos' meaning lip, referring to the thin labellum.

Distribution and status

Now endemic to South Australia and found mainly in the Mount Lofty Ranges with a collection from Kangaroo Island, growing on clay or gravelly soils in open woodland. Also one found in Victoria. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Apparently now extinct in Victoria, but once recorded from several widely dispersed localities.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Northern Lofty, Murray, Southern Lofty, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Slender terrestrial orchid to 45 cm tall in flower. Leaf single, erect to 20 cm long. Flowers 1-2, to 35 mm, yellowish or red borne on a stalk to 45 cm long. Sepals thin, reddish, club-like glandular tips to 8 mm long. Dorsal sepal erect, to 65 mm long and 4 mm wide. Lateral sepals about the same size as the dorsal sepal but are turned stiffly upwards. Petals to 45 mm long and 3 mm wide and spread horizontally or turn upwards. Labellum to 15 mm long and 7 mm wide, red with the tip rolled under, with four rows of short, red calli along its mid-line. This subspecies is distinguished from the other subspecies found in South Australia, C. leptochila ssp. dentata which have teeth along the edges of the labellum and is found only in the Flinders Ranges. Flowering between September to November. 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.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA392,000 (0.14 g)710-Dec-2016D. Kilpin
Southern Lofty
BGA44,800 (0.016 g)223-Nov-2017D. Kilpin
Southern Lofty
BGA308,200 (0.11 g)166-Dec-2017D. Kilpin
Southern Lofty
BGA42,000 (0.015 g)519-Nov-2019D.Kilpin's Property
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.