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What's flowering in the park

Caleana major

Large Duck Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae

Caleana major is a terrestrial orchid, very difficult to spot because of its size and inconspicuous colouring in bushland. It is found in exposed sunny locations in heath, woodland and open forests, often in groups.

2-4 flowers grow on a green stem to 40cm high. The single leaf, arisng near the base of the stalk, is about 10cm high and reddish.

The 'upside-down' flower is reddish-brown, 15-20 mm long. The labellum or tongue, at the top, is a deep red and attached to the rest of the flower by a sensitive strap. Pollination is via male sawflies. When the insect touches the sensitive labellum it snaps shut, trapping the insect in the sticky body of the column. It deposits pollen it may be carrying and picks up more. It is then released to fly to the next orchid.

Caleana was named after George Caley, an early botanical collector.

Caleana major flowers from September to January.

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Caleana major

Caleana major

 

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