Now that I have your attention.
Regular readers know the drill. Geeky plant posts often appear on fridays because I’m usually too tired to string together anything more coherent! Anyway, this is my third post about pollination in a week so something Freudian is probably going on. You can tell it is spring 😉 Some things I’m never too tired for… Er, moving swiftly onwards:
Chiloglottis platyptera – The Barrington Tops Ant Orchid.
This amazing little terrestrial Orchid from Australia, just like the Bee Orchids of Europe, uses sexual deception in order to attract pollinators.
The pollinators (male thynnine wasps) are attracted by the appearance of the flower lip which resembles the wingless female. Amazingly the flower also mimics the sex pheromones of the female wasp. The male picks up the pollen in its attempts to copulate with the flower and then carries it on to the next unsatisfying rendezvous. In the bottom picture you can see the yellow blob of the pollen held just above where the male insect’s head would be.
One is tempted to speculate on the chances of a male with a great big yellow lump on his head getting any action if he subsequently meets a real female….
These are not difficult plants in cultivation. They need protection from frost and a totally dry summer which they spend as tiny dormant tubers. They do increase vegetatively too, forming small colonies. I have had seed produced on my plants which suggests that (also like the Bee Orchids) they are self compatible when a suitable pollinator is absent.