Caladenia aff. ferruginea   Rusty Spider Orchid ? Endemic

Caladenia aff. ferruginea whole Caladenia aff. ferruginea close

While taking photos of various plants at this reserve, I was spotted by one of the locals who asked me if I wanted to see a rarity. He seemed to know his plants referring to the systematic names in the way an enthusiast does and then proudly announced that this was the very rare Caladenia excelsa (Giant Spider Orchid). Being new to the Australian flora I took him at his word and photographed this great find. He then described accurately where to find various other plants which I now know he correctly identified.

I recorded this plant as C. excelsa until I looked up the details in Noel Hoffman and Andrew Brown's excellent book on Orchids of south west Australia. Not only would this be a record for C. excelsa way out of range (it normally grows in the far south west over 200 miles away) but it doesn't actually look that all that much like the various photos I've seen of this rare plant. The nearest I can find is C. ferruginea (Rusty Spider Orchid) which also puts it out of normal recorded range but not as far. It might also be C. lorea (Blushing Spider Orchid) and this would put it in the right place. So I don't really know what it is except that I could rule out quite a few Caladenia species and it could of course be a hybrid.

For that confusion I have adopted the glorious botanical fudge introduced to me over there in western Australia: aff. This is supposed to be short for affinis which means related to but it is usually used in the context: "affn't a clue mate".

If any Australian botanists out there do have a clue about the true identify of this beautiful orchid please contact me.

Eastern Badgingarra reserve off Brand Highway, open ground Caravan site on open ground, 8th September 2007

Added on 17th March 2008, updated 7th November 2008

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict