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Calochilus herbaceus facts for kids

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Pale beard orchid
Calochilus herbaceus.jpg
Calochilus herbaceus near Marrawah in Tasmania
Scientific classification

Calochilus herbaceus, commonly known as the pale beard orchid, is a species of orchid native to south-eastern Australia and northern New Zealand. It has a single very short, rigid, fleshy leaf and up to eight pale green to brownish flowers with reddish stripes and a purple "beard".


Calochilus herbaceus is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with an underground tuber and a single fleshy, channelled leaf 30–60 mm (1–2 in) long, 6–12 mm (0.2–0.5 in) wide and triangular in cross section. Up to eight pale green to brownish flowers with reddish stripes, 14–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) long and 10–14 mm (0.4–0.6 in) wide are borne on a flowering stem 150–400 mm (6–20 in) tall. The dorsal sepal is erect, egg-shaped, 9–12 mm (0.4–0.5 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) wide. The lateral sepals are egg-shaped, 9–12 mm (0.4–0.5 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) wide. The petals are lance-shaped to egg-shaped, 8–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) long, 5–6 mm (0.20–0.24 in) wide and spread below the labellum. The labellum is triangular, curved in side view, 10–14 mm (0.4–0.6 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide. The base of the labellum has between two and six smooth, metallic blue plates and the middle part has a few bristly purple hairs. The tip has a short glandular "tail" about 3 mm (0.12 in) long. The column has two sham "eyes" joined by a faint ridge. Flowering occurs from October to January but each flower only lasts for one or two days.

Taxonomy and naming

Calochilus herbaceus was first formally described in 1840 by John Lindley from a specimen collected near Rocky Cape. The description was published in his book The Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants. The specific epithet (herbaceus) is a Latin word meaning "of plants".

Distribution and habitat

The pale beard orchid grows in wet coastal scrub, sedges and heath in southern Victoria, Tasmanian (including Flinders Island and King Island) and on the North Island of New Zealand north of Auckland.

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