Nature conservation

Threatened species

Pretty Beard Orchid - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Calochilus pulchellus
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 23 May 2008
Profile last updated: 16 Aug 2018


Calochilus pulchellus is a terrestrial herb with a single upright sublinear leaf which sheaths the flowering stem briefly at the base; the leaf is fully developed at flowering time. The flowering stems are 200-300 mm tall, bearing 1-5 flowers on pedicels 6-12 mm long. The flowers last for 2-4 days and are 25-30 mm long by approximately 20 mm wide; the sepals and petals are a pale green or greenish yellow with darker reddish longitudinal striations and the labellum hairs are a coppery red. Fruits have not yet been observed. Calochilus pulchellus is similar to C. grandiflorus.


Calochilus pulchellus is endemic to New South Wales. It is known from the Sydney Basin Bioregion, where a total of less than 30 adult plants have been recorded in three sites over a range of 40 km on the South Coast of NSW, at altitudes from 20-560 m above sea level. All currently known sites are within the Shoalhaven Local Government Area. Occurrence in small, widely separated colonies is not unusual in the genus. The cryptic nature of the species, with a single leaf above ground for only a few months and a flowering stem lasting a few days or a week, makes detection difficult for most of the year. It is likely that additional scattered individuals and small colonies exist within the area of occurrence.

Habitat and ecology

  • The species has a cryptic nature, with a single leaf present above ground for only a few months and a flowering stem that lasts for a few days or a week.
  • The life cycle of C. pulchellus is typical for temperate zone members of the genus, with the leaf emerging from a subterranean tuber in mid-winter, and flowering occurring from late October to late November, with only one or two flowers open at a time and each flower lasting only 2-4 days. The plant dies back to tubers in later summer.
  • Over time the species is probably reliant on recruitment from seed rather than vegetative persistence.
  • At Vincentia the species grows in low Scribbly Gum dominated woodland with a low wet heath understorey. The soil is a sandy loam overlying sandstone. In Booderee National Park it grows in a tall heathy association. In Morton National Park on the Little Forest Plateau it occurs in low heath among scattered clumps of emergent eucalypts and Banksia in shallow coarse white sand over sandstone, in a near-escarpment area subject to strong orographic precipitation.

Regional distribution and habitat

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Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted None
Sydney BasinEttrema Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None