Caleana, Flying Duck Orchids

Caleana, Flying Duck Orchids


Source: Wikimedia Commons| Peter Woodard

Flying Duck Orchid Fast Facts

Scientific Name: Caleana Major
Common name: Flying duck orchid, duck orchids, large duck orchids
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Genus: Caleana
Growing Type: Terrestrial
Flower Color: Purplish-red with a hint of brown
Blooming season: Early fall to winter months, September until January

We know all about the moth orchids and the orchids that look like laughing monkeys. Today we’ll show you an even bizarrely beautiful kind of orchid called the Caleana Major, otherwise known as the flying duck orchids.

This one-of-a-kind orchid genus is native to the wilderness of Australia. They are usually spotted in open forests and woodlands of Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales. This single-species orchid genus was first described by Robert Brown in 1810. He named it in honor of English botanist and explorer, George Caley.

Initially, Caleana minor and Caleana nigrita were classified as a part of this genus but latest updates have reclassified them now as members of Paracaleana orchid genus.

Plant Description

Caleana major is a terrestrial orchid that can grow up to 20 inches tall. It boasts of a unique flower that bears an uncanny resemblance to a flying duck in purple with red and brown tints; thus its popular nickname. Its typical blooming season during fall to winter months or September until January.

According to sources, the unique form of the orchid blooms is caused by evolution. The orchid plant is deceiving its pollinators, the male sawflies, into coming near the orchid, it is a female sawfly. The insect gets caught in the “beak” of the flying duck orchid and unintentionally releases pollen as it breaks free from it.

Can You Grow Flying Duck Orchids at Home?

Having Caleana orchids blooming in your home garden as part of your orchid collection may seem tempting. However, these orchid plants are not usually for sale in the market.

Sadly, the flying duck orchid is included in Australia’s vulnerable plant list. In the brink of being an endangered orchid, the interesting plant is no longer as abundant as it used to be because of the destruction of their habitat or the natural environment, which leads to the loss of their pollinators.

In addition, Gardening Know How reports that it’s not advisable to pluck out flying duck orchids to from their natural habitat because their roots have a strong symbiotic relationship to the fungus found only in the eucalyptus woodlands of the Land Down Under. Aside from the fact that it will just die eventually, doing so will also have a negative impact on the wild orchids out there.

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