Caladenia variegata


variegata: From the Latin variagatus, referring to colours disposed in various irregular spaces

Common Name(s)

None known

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Not Threatened


2012 - Sp


Caladenia variegata Colenso



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Petalochilus variegatus (Colenso) D.L.Jones et M.A.Clem.; Petalochilus carneus (R.Br.) D.L.Jones & M.A.Clem. aut. non. N.Z. authors, Caladenia carnea R.Br. auct. non. N.Z. authors


Endemic. North, South and Chatham Islands. Exact distribution still poorly known. In the North Island it has been recorded from the Kaingaroa Plain (mainly in plantation forestry), Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Tararua Ranges and near Wellington. Reported from north-west Nelson.


In the North and South Islands a montane species found in areas above 600 m a.s.l. Usually in semi-decomposed leaf litter or peaty ground under tall forest. Locally common in Pinus nigra Arnold plantations. On the Chatham Islands it is found in lowland tarahinau (Dracophyllum arboreum Cockayne) forest, usually amongst leaf litter made up entirely of Dracophyllum leaves.


Stout terrestrial orchid usually mostly occurring at solitary plants sometimes as small colonies of up to 10. All parts finely but sparsely glandular hairy. Leaf solitary up to 300 x 4 mm long, narrow-linear to linear-lanceolate, dark green to reddish-green. Stem erect, stout, up to 300 mm tall, dark red-green or red, sparsely eglandular-glandular hairy. Floral bracts 1(-2). Flowers 1(-2) up to 30 mm diameter, in lax racemes, perianth usually pink, rarely white, if pink often darker toward flower centre. Dorsal sepal erect, arching over column, more or less cucullate toward apex, externally green tinged, lateral sepals wide spreading to somewhat deflexed broadly elliptic, apex obtuse to broadly obtuse, apiculate. Petals elliptic to narrowly elliptic, apex sharply acute, often falcate. Labellum 3-lobed, externally pale pink flushed with white toward margins, internally pink or white, marked with transverse dark red bands, disc with 2 more or less equal lines of prominently stalked calli, stalks dark pink or white, callus heads spheroidal, globular to ellipsoid, bright yellow, lateral lobes deeply cut; mid-lobe narrowly triangular, slightly recurved, either white or pink or basally white or pink flushed yellow, margins crenulated, dark yellow, marginal calli either absent or with a single semi-flattened yellow callus on either side. Column erect to slightly recurved, externally surface bright green, covered with fine, pink glandular hairs, internally green with 5-8 dark red transverse, irregular bars, column wings distinctly broadening toward apex. Anther pink

Similar Taxa

Caladenia variegata can be recognised by its stature (up to 300 mm tall), very dark stem and green ovary and large flowers. The flowers are usually pale pink (but they can be white) are either solitary or in pairs. The dorsal sepal is characteristically green tinged. The back of the column is externally bright green and is covered with pink glandular hairs, and internally green striped red. The anther is pink, the labellum and side lobes are striped dark red. The calli are bright yellow, prominently stipitate, ellipsoid to spheroidal, usually in two rows that occupy a median position down the labellum. The mid-lobe is white or basally white otherwise yellow with butter yellow crenulated margins, and toward the base there are either no or one marginal callus on either side. The lateral petals are distinctively sharply acute, falcate, while the sepals are obtuse, finely apiculate.


November - January

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


January - March

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the widl


Caladenia variegata would seem to be a rather sparsely distributed and naturally uncommon orchid. However, it is quite likely that the apparent rarity of this species is also in part due to its being overlooked for despite its colourful flowers it is not easily seen amongst the leaf litter in which it usually grows.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available



Jones et al. (2001) revived the genus Petalochilus R.S.Rogers (erected by Rogers (1924) for what has come to be viewed as a peloric state of Caladenia R.Br. - see Moore & Edgar (1970)) for a distinct clade of mostly New Zealand orchids that had usually been referred to as Caladenia. Subsequently Hopper et al. (2004) showed how the reorganisation of Caladenia by Jones et al. (2001) was unworkable and they recommended a return to Caladenia and the other allied Australian genera that had been recognised previously. Following discussion with S. Hopper and P. Weston (pers. comm., 2011, 2014) the treatment of Hopper et al. (2004) is preferred to that of Jones et al. (2001) and so followed here.



Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007. Description based on Colenso (1885) and herbarium specimens and subsequently published in de Lange et al. (2007).

References and further reading

Colenso, W. 1885: A description of some newly-discovered and rare indigenous plants; being a further contribution towards the making known the botany of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 17: 237-265.

de Lange, P.; Rolfe, J. St George, I. Sawyer J. 2007: Wild orchids of the lower North Island. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 194pp.

Hopper, S.D.; Brown, A.P. 2004: Robert Brown's Caladenia revisited, including a revision of its sister genera Cyanicula, Ericksonella and Pheladenia (Caladeniinae: Orchidaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 17: 1-240.

Jones, D.L.; Clements, M.A.; Sharma, I.K.; Mackenzie, A.M. 2001: A New Classification of Caladenia R.Br. (Orchidaceae). The Orchadian 13: 389-419.

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

Rogers, R.S. 1924: Petalochilus: a New Genus of New Zealand Orchids. Journal of Botany 62: 65-67.


This page last updated on 3 Dec 2014