The Giant Spider Orchid or Caladenia excelsa now features on Grace Farm’s label. This rare orchid, whose flowers are the biggest of any spider orchid, can be found along the Leeuwin Ridge in spring.
When we bought the property in 2003, we wanted to document its flora and fauna and get to know it better. Part of Grace Farm’s beauty is the astonishing variety of vegetation, from the peppermint trees and melaleuca grove near the entrance, to the towering karris in the gully. We wanted to know how to protect it. We asked Margaret Moir, currently President of the SW Capes Branch of the Wildflower Society of WA, to do a floristic survey of the bushland.
While walking around the western boundary of the property, from the striking granite outcrops on the Leeuwin Ridge down to the creekline, where the Cowaramup Brook passes on its journey to Cowaramup Bay, we spotted the Caladenia excelsa. The plant is one of the tallest spider orchids and the flower, which can be up to 15cm in width, has a remarkable size and elegance. Its long green petals are sinewy and graceful and seem to dance around its deep red apex. Margaret put a photo of the Caladenia excelsa on the cover of her survey and over the years we have come to think of it as emblematic of Grace Farm.
The Caladenia excelsa was named in 2001 by Andrew Brown, Curator of the Orchidaceae and Myoporaceae at the WA Herbarium, and Stephen Hopper, now Professor of Biodiversity at UWA Albany. In the 1980s the two made several field trips to the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge to document the species populations. The ‘excelsa’ of the name refers to the height of this spider orchid and means “lofty” or “tall”.
We have chosen the Caladenia excelsa to appear in Grace Farm’s new label design because it reflects the uniqueness of the site and all that we love about it. The artwork was done by Malcolm Lindsay and the label design by Brett Layton from Twofromtwo. All wines bottled from September 2020 will use this design with the first release being the 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
It’s always satisfying to come across one of these endangered orchids when walking through the bushland. We are committed to working with local conservationists to preserve this species and others.
Like our wine, the Caladenia excelsa is local in character, rare in beauty and elegant in profile.
John & Lizzie Mair