Searching for the Flying Duck OrchidA couple of years ago I started becoming interested in orchids and whilst flicking through google images of orchids I came across several orchid flowers that looked like creatures. Amongst the most impressive of these was what is commonly called the Flying Duck Orchid (botanically known as Caleana major). I was blown away by how closely this orchid did actually resemble a flying duck but never looked into its origins. Then a few weeks ago I noticed the somebody had posted some pictures showing he had located some in Vaughan Springs which is about 50 minutes from my place. I contacted the photographer and he gave me some directions.
I set out towards Vaughan Springs and as the travel time started adding up I starting thinking that searching for such a small and elusive little orchid may be more difficult than I first thought. I turned off the freeway onto country roads that went through Malmsbury. Then the sealed roads turned into dirt roads as I entered the bushland in Vaughan Springs. The directions I had been given were good but when I arrived at the intersection where I was told to stop I couldn't locate a walking track that was the next marker I had to locate. I knew I was roughly in the right area and there were about 3 hills around me. According to my information the orchid was on the peak of one of those hills. I started walking up one of them and shortly after I got to the peak I saw little patches of maroon plants. I had found them.
The Flying Duck Orchids were much smaller than I expected. The flower itself was only about 3 cm tall. The plant in its entirety was only roughly 20cm high. If I wasn't looking for it I may well have just walked right past it. The flower head didn't fail to impress. It was exactly as it appeared in the pictures. I took some snaps and set off to Daylesford to see the rest of the day out in the Wombat Hill Botanical gardens. Locating this plant was a hugely rewarding experience as I was half expecting to not even find it because of its elusive size. Even if I didn't locate it the sight of the other spring wildflowers would have made up for the disappointment of not finding this beautiful little plant.