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Calochilus praealtus facts for kids

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Lofty beard orchid
Scientific classification

Calochilus praealtus, commonly known as the lofty beard orchid, is a species of orchid endemic to the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. It has a single pale green leaf and up to six pale green flowers with faint red stripes and a labellum with a dark purple beard. It is only known from two mountainous areas.


Calochilus praealtus is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with an underground tuber and a single pale green leaf 180–400 mm (7–20 in) long, 4–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide and fully developed at flowering time. The leaf has a powdery coating and a purplish red base. Between two and six pale green flowers with faint red stripes are borne on a flowering stem 280–500 mm (10–20 in) tall. Individual flowers last for between two and four days. The dorsal sepal is broadly lance-shaped to egg-shaped, 12–14 mm (0.5–0.6 in) long and 8–9 mm (0.3–0.4 in) wide. The lateral sepals are a similar length but only about half as wide and spread apart from each other. The petals are 7–8 mm (0.28–0.31 in) long, about 5 mm (0.2 in) wide, asymmetrically egg-shaped with a small upturned tip. The labellum is flat, 22–24 mm (0.87–0.94 in) long, about 7 mm (0.3 in) wide, with short, thick purple calli near its base. The central part of the labellum is covered with dark purple hairs up to 6 mm (0.2 in) long and there is a glandular tip which is 15–17 mm (0.6–0.7 in) long and about 1 mm (0.04 in) wide. The column has two yellowish "eyes" joined by a faint ridge. Flowering occurs from December to February but the flowers only last between two and four days.

Taxonomy and naming

Calochilus praealtus was first formally described in 2006 by David Jones from a specimen collected in Mount Kaputar National Park and the description was published in Australian Orchid Research. The specific epithet (praealtus) is a Latin word meaning "very high".

Jones gave the species the name Calochilus praeltus, misspelling the Greek word and mentioning that its meaning is "high altitude, elevation; in reference to its occurrence at high altitudes". The misspelling has been copied by the Australian Plant Name Index.

Distribution and habitat

The lofty beard orchid grows with grasses in snow gum woodland. It is only known from Barrington Tops and the Mount Kaputar National Park.

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