Plants of
South Australia
Caladenia prolata
Fertile Caladenia,
Shy Caladenia
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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: 12

Prior names

Petalochilus prolatus

Caladenia carnea var. C

Caladenia carnea var. attenuata

Caladenia carnea var. minor, partly

Common names

Fertile Caladenia

Shy Caladenia


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. Prolata from the Latin 'prolatus' meaning extended or elongated, alluding to the ovary which is longer than in similar species, such as C. vulgaris.

Distribution and status

Found on Kangaroo Island, southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the South-east in South Australia, growing in coastal scrub and heathy forest on well-drained sandy loams. Also found in Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Very rare in Tasmania.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual terrestrial orchid growing from an underground tuber with a single erect, hairy leaf to 200 mm long and 5 mm wide with a reddish or purplish base. Inflorescence on a long slender stalk to 240 mm long with one or two dull white flowers which are hairy and greenish with red stripes on the back. Flowers are 10 mm long and 15 mm wide with the dorsal sepal partly forming a hood over the column and the lateral sepals are linear to lance-shaped, slightly sickle-shaped. The labellum is dull pink with dark red bars and a yellow tip, with four to six short teeth on the sides and two rows of white or yellow calli along the mid-line. Flowering between October and November. Fruits are pale-brown hairy, papery ellipsoid capsule containing numerous tiny seeds. Seeds are very small brown ellipsoid seed with a long cylindrical translucent brown mesh-like covering.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds during December. 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 9 individuals in total were recorded from the Geegeela area. Approximately 174,000 seeds (0.043 g) were banked from this population. Seed viability was 93%. 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
BGA174,000 (0.043 g)9+21-Sep-2013KHB745
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.