An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 125 Photo by Sandra Wallace

Cowslip Orchid

Caladenia flava


  • Tuberous, perennial herb which grows from underground stems.
  • Size: 5 cm to 30 cm high.
  • Leaves: It has a broad, hairy basal leaf up to 25 cm long.
  • Flowers: The 30-40 mm diameter flowers are often solitary but up to four flowers may be borne on a slender stem about 30 cm high. Caladenia flava is a very distinctive species because of its bright yellow flowers which often have crimson spots.

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower
  • Full flowering (record all days)
  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect plants to delay emergence till later and start flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start disappearing in areas, as warmer temperatures suppress growth and development.

When To Look

  • Leaf and flowerstalk appear between July to December
  • Flowering occurs in spring and the plants become dormant in summer when they die back to an underground tuber

Where To Look

  • South-west Australia
  • Species (a number of subspecies are recognised) have been recorded from north of Kalbarri, east to Coolgardie and south to Esperance.
  • Habitats include coastal woodlands, winter-wet areas, forest areas, granite outcrops, and sandplains.
  • Look in sandy soils, under trees.

Cowslip orchid distribution map - ANPSA

Cowslip orchid distribution map - Australian Native Plants Society 

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.




Nevill et al. 2005. Guide to the Wildlife of the Perth Region. Simon Nevill Publications, Perth, Western Australia.


Pelloe, Emily H. 1930. West Australia Orchids. [Illustrations by the author]. Perth, Western Australia.

  1. Search Species

  1. Did You Know?


    Caladenia...From Greek calos, beautiful and aden, a gland, referring to the glands on the labellum (the distinctive lip-like petal of orchids).


    flava...From Latin flavus, yellow, referring to the colour of the flower.