Caleana

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Flying duck orchid
Duck off Elvina.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Tribe: Diurideae
Subtribe: incertae sedis
Genus: Caleana
R.Br.
Species: C. major
Binomial name
Caleana major
R.Br.
Synonyms
  • Caleya major (R.Br.) R.Br.

Caleana major, the flying duck orchid, is a small orchid found in eastern and southern Australia.[1] This terrestrial plant features a remarkable flower, resembling a duck in flight. The flower is an attractant to insects, such as male sawflies which pollinate the flower in a process known as pseudocopulation.[1] In 1986 this orchid was featured on an Australian postage stamp.[2]

Description[edit]

Caleana major is encountered as a terrestrial herb, up to 50 centimetres (20 in) tall. Two to four flowers grow on the green stem.[3] The single leaf, appears near the base of the stalk. It is usually prostrate, narrowly lanceolate, to 12 cm (5 in) long and 8 mm (0.3 in) wide, often spotted.[4] The flower is reddish brown, 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) long. In rare cases, the flower can be greenish with dark spots.[4] The plant is pollinated by insects. A sensitive strap is attached to the flower, which is triggered by vibration. Flowering occurs from September to January.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Occurring from Queensland to South Australia, to even Tasmania,[6][7] this plant is found in eucalyptus woodland in coastal or swampy shrubland and heathland. Mostly near the coast, but occasionally at higher altitudes.[4] Because of the small size, it is a difficult plant to notice in the wild.

Taxonomy[edit]

The genus Caleana was named after George Caley, an early botanical collector.[6] As of May 2014, Caleana major is the only species in the genus; two other species (C. minor and C. nigrita) formerly included in this genus are now regarded as members of a different genus, Paracaleana.[8] Latin for "larger", major refers to the contrast with the other, smaller duck orchid, Paracaleana minor.

The original specimen of this plant was collected at Bennelong Point, the present-day site of the Sydney Opera House in September, 1803.[9] In 1810, the species originally appeared in the scientific literature, Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae, authored by the prolific Scottish botanist Robert Brown.

Cultivation[edit]

Caleana major has been difficult to maintain in cultivation. Plants flower for one or sometimes two years but progressively weaken until they die.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Les Robinson - Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney, ISBN 978-0-7318-1211-0 page 241
  2. ^ http://www.anbg.gov.au/stamps/stamp.991.html
  3. ^ http://www.friendsoflanecovenationalpark.org.au/Flowering/Flowers/Caleana_major.htm
  4. ^ a b c "Caleana major". PlantNET - NSW Flora Online retrieved October 30th, 2010. 
  5. ^ Fairley, Alan; Moore, Philip (2010). Native Plants of the Sydney Region: An Identification Guide (3rd ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Jacana Books (Allen & Unwin). p. 563. ISBN 978-1-74175-571-8. 
  6. ^ a b c Elliot, Rodger W.; Jones, David L.; Blake, Trevor (1985). Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation: Vol. 2. Port Melbourne: Lothian Press. p. 408. ISBN 0-85091-143-5. 
  7. ^ "Australian Orchids in New Zealand, National Library of New Zealand". 
  8. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Caleana
  9. ^ "Caleana major R.Br.". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. 

External links[edit]