Plants of
South Australia
Caladenia pusilla
Pigmy 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: 6

Prior names

Caladenia pygmaea

Caladenia minor

Petalochilus pusillus

Caladenia carnea var. pygmaea, partly

Common names

Pigmy 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. Pusilla from Latin meaning very small, little or pretty, referring to the diminutive size of the whole plant, including the flower.

Distribution and status

Found on the lower Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, southern Mt Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia, growing on clay or gravel soils in exposed sites in open woodland, often in soils which are boggy in winter.  Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Rare in South Australia. Rare in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Slender terrestrial orchid to 10 cm in flower. Leaf single, to 6 cm long, erect, sparsely hairy. Flower single, to 8 cm long, pink with a brownish-pink back and often a white centre, borne on a thick stalk to 10 cm tall. Dorsal sepal erect at its base but curves forward to 70 mm long and 3 mm wide. Lateral sepals to 70 mm long and 2 mm wide and are partly joined to each other. Petals to 60 mm long and 2 mm wide and spread widely. Labellum white or pink with red bars, to 5 mm long and wide, edges sometimes with a few short teeth near the tip which curls under and two rows of stalked calli with yellow heads along the mid-line of the labellum. Flowering between September and November. Fruits are pale-brown hairy, papery ellipsoid capsule containing numerous tiny seeds.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and 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.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA106,200 (0.037 g)1710-Nov-2020DJD3942
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.