Caladenia catenata var. exigua (Cheeseman) W.M. Curtis; Caladenia minor var. exigua Cheeseman; Caladenia exigua Cheeseman; Caladenia holmesii Rupp; Caladenia carnea var. alata (R.Br.) Domin.; Caladenia carnea var. exigua (Cheeseman) Rupp; Petalochilus alatus (R.Br.) D.L.Jones et M.A. Clem.
Vascular – Native
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP, SO, Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: SO, Sp
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP, TO
2004 | Range Restricted
Indigenous. North Island from Te Paki to about Rotorua thence disjunct to the Horowhenua. Exact distribution still unknown it was only recently (1980s) recognised from New Zealand
Coastal to lowland (more rarely montane - up to 800 m a.s.l.). Often in gumland scrub or on open clay pans, in skeletal soils on steep rocky ridges, on the margins of peat bogs or within open sinter and rock in and around geothermal vents. More rarely found in the leaf litter under tall manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) dominated scrub or within seral forest. Usually in dry sites and plants are usually withered off and gone by November.
Terrestrial dark green to reddish-green early spring flowering orchid usually occurring at solitary plants sometimes as small colonies of up to 20 plants. All parts finely but sparsely glandular hairy. Leaf solitary up to 60 x 3 mm long, linear, dark green to reddish-green. Stem erect, slender somewhat wiry, up to 100 mm tall, thin and very wiry, sparsely eglandular-glandular hairy. Floral bracts 1(-2). Flowers 1(-2) up to 10 mm diameter, in lax racemes, perianth very pale mauve, pale pink, reddish or white often suffused pale china blue, if darker coloured usually fading to pink or white near flower centre. Sepals up to 3 mm long, narrowly-lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, apex acute to subacute; dorsal sepal erect, others spreading. Petals up to 3 mm long, lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, apex sharply acute, spreading or projecting forwards. Labellum 3-lobed, marked with transverse cerise bars, disc with 2 more or less equal lines of stalked calli extending nearly to apex, stalks white, clavate, callus heads yellow, lateral lobes erect, column-embracing, more or less entire, often finely crimpled to crenulate toward mid-lobe; mid-lobe broadly triangular, strongly recurved under labellum, margins entire, usually bearing a solitary, flattened, orange or yellow callus on either side of mid-lobe base. Column erect to slightly recurved, white or pale pink or mauve, marked with up to 5 darker transverse, red to cerise bars, column wings distinctly broadening toward apex.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Easily recognised by the early flowering habit, small size and solitary flower. The flower is often suffused pale china blue, or pinkish, pale mauve or even red. Sometimes it can be completely white. The tepals are distinctively sharply acute. The labellum offers the main distinguishing characters, the lamina, side-lobes are marked with cerise bars. The labellum calli are in two rows, spheroidal and yellow-topped, while the mid-lobe has a distinctive curled under yellow or orange tip and it usually bears at its base, on either side, a single flattened orange or dark sulphur yellow marginal callus. The column is weakly curved and marked with cerise bars.
August - November
October - January
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild
In New Zealand Caladenia alata is a biologically sparse species usually occurring in diffuse, often widely scattered populations of few to many individuals.
alata: From the Latin ala ‘wing’ meaning ‘winged’
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 herbarium specimens and subsequently published in de Lange et al. (2007).
References and further reading
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.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Caladenia alata Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/caladenia-alata/ (Date website was queried)