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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Caladenia longicauda

Caladenia longicauda

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Pete (aka UnclePedro@Flickr) for this image of Caladenia longicauda, taken at the Wireless Hill Reserve in Western Australia.

Caladenia longicauda is a tuberous perennial orchid native to Western Australia (distribution map). It flowers from July through November, and is relatively common in areas that receive significant amounts of winter moisture. The characteristic fringed labellum is the cause for its common name, the white spider orchid, making this species relatively easy to distinguish. However, there are upwards of 12 subspecies and hybrids making precise identification difficult.

The inflorescence can be single-flowered or a small panicle of several flowers, occurring at the top of a slender 15cm-60cm stem. The colourful knob-like structures on the upper surface of the labellum are termed calli. The colouration of the calli and the fringes of the labellum are thought to play a major role in the pollination process. A scent similar to the pheromones produced by receptive female thynnine wasps is produced by glands in the flowers. Male thynnine wasps are attracted by this scent, and may land on the labellum, mistaking the colourful calli for a female wasp. As the male wasp searches for its (non-existent) partner, it may contact the stigma and dislodge any pollinia it may be carrying or pick up pollinia in the process. This phenomenon is called pseudocopulation, and is common within the genus Caladenia. It not yet certain whether this is the case for Caladenia longicauda, but given the high occurrence of such sexual deception among the genus, it is thought to be likely.

7 Comments

just like a male now is it not

Princess of flowers

Thank you for a magnificent photo and an interesting write-up. It's marvelous to be able to see the iridescent quality of the petals.

A stunning photo of a superb and most intriguing plant!! Thank you for posting it along with the commentary.

Thank you for another stunning photo. I know that when I share it with residents at the complex care facility where I work it will generate some interesting reactions, not only because it is an orchid we would never likely see in real life but because of the suggestion of a pixie wearing a rain cap in the heart of the flower, or an exotic dancer unfurling long scarves...delight and learning are generated in many ways.

I'd already make UnclePedro's pic a favourite on flickr. Nice to have the interesting story on the pollination.

Beautiful...and maybe a tad bit scary.

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