The Shy Limestone Spider Orchid (Caladenia bicalliata ssp. cleistogama) is a fascinating and rare member of the orchid family. It is closely related to the Limestone Spider Orchid (Caladenia bicalliata ssp. bicalliata), another small orchid found growing in the same locations. The Shy orchid shares many similarities with its cousin but is slightly smaller and paler in appearance.
Some spider orchids employ unique pollination strategies, often involving deception and mimicry. This subspecies, cleistogama, has an intriguing adaptation. Cleistogama refers to the orchid’s ability to self-fertilize within its closed flower. This adaptation ensures the survival and reproductive success of the Shy orchid, even in environments where pollinators may be scarce.
The Shy Limestone Spider Orchid is primarily found in a handful of locations along the south coast of Western Australia. A distinct population exists here near Leeman.
In terms of size, the Shy Limestone Spider Orchid stands between 10 and 25 centimeters tall, making it a petite and exquisite addition to the floral landscape. The flower itself is relatively small, measuring only about 25 millimeters in width.
It lives in sandy soils under the cover of dense shrubs. While this provides the flower shade and protection, it makes it much harder to spot!
One of the remarkable aspects of the Shy Limestone Spider Orchid is the infrequency at which its flowers open. When they do, it is for a brief period, usually lasting only a few days. Further adding to the challenge of encountering this unique orchid in the wild.
This is a rare and tiny orchid, that hides in under thick shrubs and bushes, and only flowers for a few days of the year. No wonder it is called The “Shy” Limestone Spider Orchid.