Caladenia barbarella

Caladenia barbarella, commonly known as the small dragon orchid, is a plant in the orchid family Orchidaceae and is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia. It has a single broad, hairy leaf held close to the ground and a single greenish-yellow and red flower. It is only known from a small area near the Murchison River.

Small dragon orchid
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Genus: Caladenia
C. barbarella
Binomial name
Caladenia barbarella


Caladenia barbarella is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with an underground tuber and a single ground-hugging, broad, hairy leaf 3–8 cm (1–3 in) long and 3–7 mm (0.1–0.3 in) wide. The single flower is borne on a stem 8–25 cm (3–10 in) tall and is greenish-yellow with red stripes and 2 cm (0.8 in) wide and long. The lateral sepals and petals are short and hang downwards. The labellum is densely hairy and has a large dark red gland at its highest point. It also has many long purple hairs that are thought to attract pollinators. Flowering occurs in late August and September.[1][2][3]

Taxonomy and naming

Caladenia barbarella was first formally described by Stephen Hopper and Andrew Brown in 2001 from a specimen collected in the Cooloomia Nature Reserve near the Murchison river and the description was published in Nuytsia.[4] The specific epithet (barbarella) is a diminutive form of the Latin word barba, hence meaning "a small beard", but also alludes to a comparison of the sexual deception of this orchid to its male insect pollinators, and the French comic-book character Barbarella.[1][5]

Distribution and habitat

Small dragon orchid is known from fourteen populations east and north-east of Kalbarri in the Geraldton Sandplains biogeographic region[6] where it grows under low shrubs in areas that are inundated in winter.[1][2]


Caladenia barbarella is classified as "Threatened Flora (Declared Rare Flora — Extant)" by the Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife[6] and it has also been listed as "Endangered" (EN) under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).[3]


  1. Brown, Andrew; Dixon, Kingsley; French, Christopher; Brockman, Garry (2013). Field guide to the orchids of Western Australia : the definitive guide to the native orchids of Western Australia. Simon Nevill Publications. p. 140. ISBN 9780980348149.
  2. Hoffman, Noel; Brown, Andrew (2011). Orchids of South-West Australia (3rd ed.). Gooseberry Hill: Noel Hoffman. p. 182. ISBN 9780646562322.
  3. "Approved Conservation Advice for Caladenia barbarella (Small Dragon Orchid)" (PDF). Australian Government Department of the Environment. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  4. "Caladenia barbarella". APNI. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  5. Hopper, Stephen D.; Brown, Andrew P. (2001). "Contributions to Western Australian orchidology: 2. New taxa and circumscriptions in Caladenia". Nuytsia. 14 (1/2): 162–166. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. "Caladenia barbarella". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife.