Caleana major

Source: Peter Woodard

Caleana major

Caleana major or flying duck orchid is a remarkable Australian orchid. The flower resembles a flying duck with backward stretched wings.

So far it has not been possible to grow them: they live in symbiosis with a fungus and without this they weaken rapidly. The orchid dies after 1 or 2 years.

It is part of the family Orchidaceae, sub-family Orchidoideae, tribe Diurideae, sub-tribe Drakaeinae, genus Caleana. It is the only species of the genus Caleana.


Small cold terrestrial orchid with a single upright green leave, reddish below, up to 12 cm long and 8 mm wide.

It blooms from September to January with an erected flower spike of 15-50 cm with 1-5 hairy flowers of 1.5-2 cm. The flower is reddish brown and sometimes greenish with brown spots.

The flower is fertilized by a sawfly. When landing on the column, the labellum lowers on the sawfly and it can leave only by passing along the pollen.

Common name:

Flying duck orchid


Caleana minor, Caleya minor, Caleya major


Australia: Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania


Sand and sandstone soils in open moorland and woods, 0-600 m altitude


Caleana: in honor of George Caley, a plant collector
Major: from the Latin major (bigger)