Sunday, October 4, 2015

Copper Beard Orchid

Calochilus campestris

Doesn’t this little old man of the woods have a wonderful face?

We found him (and a number of his friends) in the Merrit’s Creek Road area today. They seemed to like growing among low grass, close to broad-leafed stringybark Eucalyptus acmenioides trees.

Much of this plant’s life is spent underground in tuber form. In spring, it puts up its single long, floppy leaf, usually going unnoticed until it also puts up a flower stem.

Aborigines used to eat the tubers, back in the days when there were considerably more of them.

These flowers are pollinated by male wasps (Campsomeris sp.). Wasp pollinated orchids emit a scent which resembles female wasp pheremones, and, unlikely as it seems, the male perceives this flower as looking like a female wasp. On investigating whether it would make a good mate, he will get dusted with pollen. This is then transferred to another orchid as he repeats the process of attempting to find a mate.

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