Caladenia is a genus in the Orchidaceae family. The scientific name is derived from the Greek words calos (meaning beautiful) and aden (meaning glands), referring to the colorful labellum and the glistening glands at the base of the column that adorn many of the species. This genus includes tuberous terrestrial orchids that occur mostly in Australia although there are a few from New Zealand and another that extends to New Caledonia, Indonesia and Malaysia. Depending on which authority you accept this is either a very large genus (around 243 species, but this also depends) or a very small genus (about six.) They usually have hairy stems and leaves and a solitary generally linear or oblong leaf.
Recent taxonomic changes have broken this genus into multiple genera and increased the number of species. This makes identification of an already large genus very challenging since there can be multiple names for the same plant depending on the authority consulted. In addition, especially in southwest Western Australia where there are numerous species, there are also varieties and natural hybrids. On the PBS wiki for the moment we will classify them according to the Australian Orchid Name Index creating pages that may be considered genus or Caladenia subgenus pages adding information there and listing the synonyms on this page with a link for where more information will be found. There are species listed in the Index in the following genera that have been newly named (or reinstated) since 2000 and are still considered valid in this index for species that were previously included in Caladenia: Arachnorchis, Caladeniastrum , Cyanicula, Drakonorchis, Ericksonella, Jonesiopsis, Petalochilus, Pheladenia, Praecoxanthus, and Stegostyla. Many of the names in the Index are not accepted by The Plant List and all Australian authorities.
Plants remaining in this genus have large colorful short segmented flowers, broad leaves, and a lip with calli fused in an often triangular basal plate. The flowers are pollinated by more than one pollinator: native bees, hover flies and beetles.
The Species Orchid Society of Western Australia hosts a lot of information online about Australian orchids here.
The Australian terrestrial orchids are notoriously challenging to grow, although some enthusiasts are starting to achieve success by cultivating the symbiotic fungus that many of the orchids require in order to grow. Very careful fertilization is required to keep the fungus and orchid in balance. There's a good discussion of the relationship here.
Caladenia barbarossa see Drakonorchis barbarossa
Caladenia carnea see Petalochilus carneus
Caladenia falcata see Arachnorchis falcata
Caladenia flava commonly known as the Cowslip Orchid remains in this genus. It is a Western Australian species with a hairy leaf and yellow flowers of various shades and red dots and stripes on the upper segments. Flowers are large, up to 4.5 cm. in diameter, with plants less than 30 cm. high. This species is widespread, sometimes found in dense colonies in forested and shrubby habitats in well drained soils. Photos below taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner in southwestern Western Australia in September 2007 show some of the variations.
Caladenia footeana see Jonesiopsis footeana
Caladenia gracilis see Stegostyla gracilis
Caladenia hirta see Arachnorchis hirta
Caladenia latifolia grows in coastal scrub, and heathland. It has broad, bright green hairy leaves which usually lie flat on the ground and bright pink flowers 3 to 3.5 cm across borne on the end of a wiry scape to 40 cm. tall. Each flower has an erect rear sepal and the other segments spread forward. This orchid is commonly known as Pink Fairies and is found in a number states in southern Australia. Pictures below were taken in various sites in southwestern Western Australia by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner September 2007.
Caladenia longicauda see Arachnorchis longicauda
Caladenia longiclavata see Arachnorchis longiclavata
Caladenia polychroma see Jonesiopsis polychroma
Caladenia pusilla see Petalochilus pusillus
Caladenia reticulata see Arachnorchis reticulata
Caladenia tentaculata see Arachnorchis tentaculata