Plants of
South Australia
Caleana minor
Small Duck-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: 5

Prior names

Sullivania minor

Paracaleana sullivanii

Caleana sullivanii


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 (formally under Paracaleana from the Greek 'para' meaning near or beside and 'Caleana' another genus of the Orchidaceae, referring to its similarity to the genus Caleana). Minor from Latin meaning smaller, alluding to its smaller flowers and a less conspicuous labellum than that of Caleana major.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern Mount Lofty and the South-east in South Australia, growing in a variety of habitats, in forested ridges and slopes, in coastal scrub and more open areas on sand and gravelly soil. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and New Zealand. Native. Rare in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual terrestrial orchid growing to 18 cm tall with up to 7 flowers. The single linear leaf is glabrous, red-brown, to 9 cm long. Flower is small, glossy, green with reddish and brown markings and in profile resembles a duck in flight. Sepals and lateral petals to 8 mm long, linear. Labellum lamina to 6 mm long, covered with dark red wart-like calli. Flowering between November 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. For the NVC South East Orchid Project three populations consisting of more than 90 individuals in total were recorded from Bangham and Pine Soak areas. Approximately 750,000 seeds (0.144 g) were banked from this population. Seed viability from three collections made ranged from 82% to 92%. More research is needed to understand the seed germination requirements of Paracaleana species. Seed germination in orchid species is difficult in the absence of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA200,000 (0.038 g)25+21-Nov-2013KHB818
South Eastern
BGA20,000 (0.005 g)15+21-Nov-2013KHB819
South Eastern
BGA250,000 (0.049 g)1212-Jan-2011J. Quarmby
Southern Lofty
BGA530,000 (0.101 g)50+21-Nov-2013KHB821
South Eastern
BGA108,000 (0.021 g)15+13-Nov-2016KHB909
Southern Lofty
BGA108,000 (0.021 g)15+13-Nov-2016KHB909
Southern Lofty
BGA218,100 (0.042 g)188-Jan-2019DJD3848
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.