Spider Orchid
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Scientists working to save endangered plant species.

Did you know that a team of scientists is trying to save a spider orchid at the edge of extinction?

In this article, I’ll teach you about the endangered spider orchids that scientists are working to save.

What is a spider orchid?

Caladenia, also known as spider orchid is a genus in the Orchidaceae family. The scientific name (Caladenia) derives from the ancient Greek words kalos, meaning beautiful and aden, meaning glands. Aden also refers to the colorful labellum at the base of the column.

These terrestrial herbs usually have a single hairy leaf. Most caladenias are native to Australia. In the South West region of Western Australia, approximately 136 species, many varieties, and natural hybrids of orchids exist.

Moreover, spider orchids have five flower segments ending in long spidery tails and a much shorter and wider central tongue. The tongue of the plant has toothed margins and rows of clearly visible glands on the blade. Spider orchids have an elongated hairy leaf close to the ground. 

A single flower is usually 4-6 centimeters wide on a 10-20 centimeter long hairy stem.

A tiny Caladenia or Caladenia Pusilla
A tiny Caladenia or Caladenia Pusilla

The Caladenia spider orchid is a dainty plant with five white thin, long petals and a touch of purple. Caladenia are found only in a small bushy reserve east of Melbourne. Most species flower in October-November.

Why are scientists trying to save the Caladenia spider orchid?

A team of botanists in Australia is collaborating on a mission to save one of the world’s rarest plants. Environmental scientist Dr. Graeme Lorimer has been combing the area for the tiny orchid for 20 years. In 2013, the spider orchids were close to extinction. 

Specifically, spider orchids are one of 527 threatened flora endangered on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act List of Threatened Flora. The Caladenia brachyscapa, commonly known as Short Spider Orchid is one of 36 extinct flora. 

Why is the spider orchid threatened?

In the last 200 years, species of orchid have been threatened with extinction for two reasons. First, the plants are fragile and vulnerable. Second, their habitats have been altered. Partly because the habitat can easily be destroyed by human activities or predators.

Common activities that threaten the orchids’ existence include:

In fact, Bush Heritage Australia stated that fire regimes have also changed dramatically over the years, and this has contributed to the spider orchids’ catastrophic decline.

Watch the “Scientists Trying to Save Rarest Orchid from Extinction” video. 

How many orchids are left?

One of Victoria’s most fragile and vulnerable plants, the rare species of spider orchid is believed to be down to two plants. In 2013, Graeme told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), “We’re down to two on the planet. We had a couple of dozen a couple of decades ago.” 

Is time running out for rare Caladenia spider orchid?

What are scientists doing to save the plant?

Botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne have been working with volunteers to try to save the orchid. They’ve collected pollen samples to fertilize the flower and create seeds. Scientists are trying to grow more plants with cross-pollination. 

One of the plants bloomed in 2013. This plant was safeguarded in a cage, monitored by a video camera. Botanists and volunteers hope to return the plants to the wild. 

Caladenia have proven difficult to maintain and cultivate artificially in a controlled environment with those removed from their habitat rarely surviving more than a few years.

Did you know that the Caladenia spider orchid is immensely rare that scientists don’t want to reveal the plant’s location?

Rare Caladenia spider orchid
Rare Caladenia spider orchid

In October 2009, two Dwarf Spider-orchid plants were found in a Parks Victoria reserve in the greater Geelong region. In an attempt to protect the plants, their location was kept confidential by the Victorian Government (ABC News, 2009). Not only is the plants’ exact location a secret, but also scientists fenced off the site around the orchids so they won’t be disturbed. 

Prior to 2009, the Dwarf Spider-orchid was considered extinct and hadn’t been observed since 1926.

Preserving seeds of hope

Art and science naturally overlap. (Read “Why Nature Makes the Greatest Inspiration for Artists“) Both involve ideas, hypotheses, and theories. Art and science are more alike than different.

Australian photographer Maggie Beresford and Avant-Garde digital painter Romero
  from the US met on Google Hangouts in 2009 and collaborated together on the Internet, talking up a storm about Maggie’s photo. Over the next few weeks, nearly going by, but they kept working on Spider Orchid. Suddenly, they added the finishing touches to the work in progress. Uploaded the final work to Picasa, then admired the completed work.

Here’s what the work looks like.

Maggie Beresford and Romero
Spider Orchid, 2009
Official Sponsor Pre-Sales

Notice how the long white, thin petals are painted with a touch of purple. Romero used a layered technique with feathering. Feathered brush strokes are scored into the surface. 

This beautiful painting captures the rare beauty of Melbourne’s Caladenia spider orchid.

Presently, a friend of the artist has the rare physical work, Spider Orchid by Maggie Beresford and Romero in her collection. Did you miss out on the physical work? Although this may be true, Maggie and Romero will launch a limited edition of 1,010 digital works of Spider Orchid

In conjunction with creativity is the new economy, the first 100 works sold will land you a free ticket to Romero’s live event in Greenville, NC. Be sure to be one of the first 100 people to collect this work. In addition, the first 100 people who add Spider Orchid to their collection will become official sponsors of the event. 

Official sponsorship is only available to the first 100 people.

Romero works to create an event that empowers the people. It takes support from you and learning along the way by analyzing what we’ve done in the past. Also, he creates artwork to stimulate people’s thought process.

In the hope that the endangered orchid can be saved, a team of scientists in Melbourne has stepped in to propagate spider orchids in a small lab at Cranbourne Gardens. Even though Caladenia is an endangered orchid, scientists haven’t given up on saving the plant species. The Caladenia spider orchid is extremely rare that scientists don’t want to reveal the plant’s location. 

We can learn from the endangered orchid. The extremely rare Caladenia spider orchid teaches us that even those who admire nature can inadvertently cause a species to become extinct. 

Protect the spider orchid. Without your help, the orchid won’t be around for future generations to enjoy. Share this article to help raise awareness to protect the spider orchid from facing extinction.

Scientists will not disclose the spider orchids' exact location near Melbourne.

Think about where you spend most of your free time in your house.

Avoid the feeling of agony over choosing the right frame. Become an alpha adopter of Spider Orchid. To view Spider Orchid, use Chromecast to cast the artwork on your TV.

Have you ever viewed an artwork on a TV screen? How about a mobile device? Try Spider Orchid.

Here’s what you’ll acquire when you become an alpha adopter:

Maggie Beresford and Romero
Spider Orchid, 2009
Official Sponsor Pre-Sales

Related posts: “How Spider Orchid Can Inspire Spirituality” and “The Shocking Truth about Spider Orchid

Your Turn
What do you love about orchids? Leave a comment below. I want to hear from you.

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Crystal Santoría
2 years ago

The orchid is very pretty. Learn something new everyday.

2 years ago

I agree! Such a delicate, little flower!

Autum Love
2 years ago

This was a really great!! These flowers are so beautiful!

2 years ago
Reply to  Autum Love

I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

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