Spring brings a huge array of orchids around where we live and these Waxlip Orchids can be found quite easily. Stunning in colour, this is the Caladenia major, which is considerably taller than its little brother Caladenia minor.
Caladenia major, commonly known as the waxlip orchid, parson-in-the-pulpit, or purple cockatoo is a plant in the orchid family Orchidaceae and is endemic to Australia. It is a ground orchid with a single hairy leaf and one or two purple to mauve flowers. It has been known as Glossodia major since its description by the prolific Scottish botanist Robert Brown in 1810, but recent discoveries suggest its inclusion in the genus Caladenia.
Caladenia major is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with an underground tuber. It has a single dark green, hairy, oblong to lance-shaped leaf, 30–60 mm (1–2 in) long and 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) wide. One or two faintly fragrant flowers, 30–45 mm (1–2 in) long and wide are borne on a spike 80–350 mm (3–10 in) tall. The sepals and petals are purple to mauve except for their bases which are white with purple spots. Rarely, the flowers are all white. The dorsal sepal is 18–25 mm (0.7–1 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide. The lateral sepals are 18–25 mm (0.7–1 in) long and 7–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) wide and spread apart from each other. The petals are 16–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) long and 5–7 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide and spread widely. The labellum is 7–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) long, 5–7 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide, white with a purple tip and with a furrow along its mid-line. At the base of the labellum there is a purple, cylinder-shaped appendage with two yellow, fleshy lobes on top. Flowering occurs from August to November