Plants of
South Australia
Caleana major
Orchidaceae
Large Flying Duck-orchid
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Rare
Vulnerable
Endangered
Critically endangered
Extinct
Data deficient
Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
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Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4.

Etymology

Caleana name in honour of George Caley (1770-1829), a British botanist and collector of New South Wales plants, curator of the St. Vincent Botanic Garden, West Indies and a friend of Robert Brown. Major from Latin meaning great, alluding to the species having the largest flowers of any of the duck orchids.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern Mount Lofty and the South-east in South Australia, growing in open areas on sand and gravelly soil. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Terrestrial orchid growing to 50 cm tall in flower with a single slender narrow-lanceolate leaf to 12 cm long and 8 mm wide, generally reddish. Flower 1-2 reddish-brown on very slender stalk with a profile resembling a duck in flight. Flowering between October and January. Fruits are brown papery ellipsoid capsule. Seeds are very small orange-brown ellipsoid seed with a long cylindrical translucent brown mesh-like covering.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and February. 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. More research is needed to understand the seed germination requirements of Caleana species. Seed germination in orchid species is difficult in the absence of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA119,000 (0.023 g)825-Oct-2016KHB899
Southern Lofty
1-Nov-2017N/C-80°C
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.