Caladenia flava

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Cowslip Orchid
Caladenia flava Gnangarra-35.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Genus: Caladenia
Species: C. flava
Binomial name
Caladenia flava
R.Br. (1810)

See text.


Caladeniastrum flavum (R.Br.) Szlach. (2003)

The Cowslip Orchid or Butter Orchid (Caladenia flava) is species of orchid found across Southwest Australia.


The species Caladenia flava is a perennial herb, which grows from underground stems. The leaf and flowerstalk appear from these to present several yellow flowers during July – December. The leaf is long for the species size, becoming narrower beyond the middle. Flowers are on a long stalk and are between two to five, usually yellow, occasionally pinkish or white, and speckled with magenta. Sepals and petals are broad though long, tapering to a point, and contracted at the base. Lateral sepals may be over 2–3 mm long, the upper sepal is smaller, with a reddish line of splotches along the centre. The flower has a lip over 5 mm with a small claw-shaped structure, three lobes are nearly separate, lateral lobes are ovate, the middle lobe longer and slightly broad, bordered on each side by several long structures (calli). These calli are in two rows, almost a semicircle. A column structure is present, and is winged from the base.


Many soil types, laterite, and granite. Common. The species has been identified as occurring with burnt trees, namely marri gum. It often occurs in winter wet areas, in forest, the coastal woodlands, and on the granite outcrops throughout the Southwest Botanical Province. The occurrence is all the regions there, it has also been identified in sandplains, the arid areas, and extending its range to the Coolgardie region.


The species was first described from the lectotype in Archibald Menzies's important early collection. Robert Brown included a description of species in his Prodomus and gave the name that is current today.[1] The genus Caladenia was substantially revised in 2001, this was published in Nuytsia and reviewed in The Orchadian.[2][3]

Three new subspecies were described:

  • Caladenia flava R.Br. subsp. flava
  • Caladenia flava subsp. maculata Hopper & A.P.Br. Common Name: The Kalbarri Cowslip Orchid [4]
  • Caladenia flava subsp. sylvestris Hopper & A.P.Br. Karri Cowslip Orchid [5]


  1. ^ Brown, R. (1810), Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae: 324 in APNI
  2. ^ The Orchadian is the Journal of the Australasian Native Orchid Society Inc. ANOS
  3. ^ Hopper, S.D. & Brown, A.P. (2001) Contributions to Western Australian orchidology: 2. New taxa and circumscriptions in Caladenia. Nuytsia 14(1/2): 174-175 in APNI
    Jones, D.L., Clements, M.A., Sharma, I.K. & Mackenzie, A.M. (2001) A new classification of Caladenia R.Br. (Orchidaceae). The Orchadian 13(9): 392. ibid. APNI
  4. ^ Hoffman, N. & Brown, A. (1992), Orchids of South-West Australia Edn. 2.: 148
  5. ^ Hoffman, N. & Brown, A. (1992), Orchids of South-West Australia Edn. 2.: 149

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