The Species Orchid Society of Western Australia (Inc)

Ron Heberle's Caladenias

The Genus Caladenia by Ron Heberle


- From CALOS meaning beautiful and ADEN meaning glands referring to the colourful labellum and the glistening glands at the base of the column that adorn many of the species.

The genus was described by Robert Brown in 1810 from specimens that he sighted in most Australian states, as a member of Matthew Flinders' mapping and exploration visit that circumnavigated Australia. Brown, with assistants, spent just over three years in Australia on botanical research.

The species are terrestrial and usually have a single hairy leaf. They are mostly Australian and are from its southern areas. There are four species in New Zealand and another extends to New Caledonia, Indonesia and Malaysia. The South West corner of Western Australia contains the most spectacular and numerous species, varieties and natural hybrids. The huge variation of form and colour of the species leads to a bewildering array and abundance of hybrids. Many are morphologically difficult to separate with some defying separation at present.

Recent taxonomy revisions have, apparently, largely increased the number of species and split the genus into separate groups. For example, Caladenia filamentosa has been split into about forty different species and sub species. This further complicates the issues of identification. The orchids in this gallery and their names and descriptions are the result of my forty plus years of field research. They are all naturally occurring plants. I have named hybrids only if I found the parent species growing in close proximity to them. Similar hybrids found in different locations in the presence of the same parent species support my determinations.
For example, Caladena ericksonea is, in my opinion, no doubt a naturally occurring hybrid of C. doutchiae and the red C. filamentosa and also of the hybrid of C. cairnsiana and the red C. filamentosa.

Whilst colour is an unreliable guide to identification with hybrids, it comes through strongly from one parent or the other for most hybrids whatever the parent species

Caladenia have generally proven difficult to maintain and cultivate artificially with those removed from their habitat rarely surviving more than a few years.
The clumping of many of the species could be a result of tuber division or it could be because the seeds fall at the base of their parents and grow there.

The galleries demonstrate the huge variation within colonies and phytogeographic variation over the range north to south and east to west with ever changing climatic and habitat situations over the 15million hectares of the South West of Western Australia.

Ron Heberle,
January 2003.