Cryptostylis erecta

Ruth has written today’s entry:

Thanks to kjbeath@flickr for this awesome picture (via the BPotD Flickr Pool).

Second only to the massive Asteraceae with regard to species numbers and morphological diversity, the Orchidaceae is a family of specialists. The flowers of the Orchidaceae are unique in construction; Jackie described some of the tepal architecture in the entry on Corycium orobanchoides, so I’ll add that the stamens, stigma and style are fused together to form what is called the column. The column is an interesting construct, often ready to slap pollinia (tiny bundles of pollen), onto the back of any pollinator that visits. As Jackie mentioned, one often enlarged petal (that sits just opposite the column) is called the labellum or lip, which sometimes acts as a landing pad for pollinators. All that being said, no rule in biology ever seems much more than a rule of thumb.

Cryptostylis erecta, the hooded orchid or bonnet orchid has its own exceptions on the matter of floral architecture. Firstly, the sepals are narrow, long and green and readily discerned from the petals. In Cryptostylis erecta, the labellum is enlarged, concave and very showy with its purple and white veins. Unlike many other orchids, the flowers of Cryptostylis (collectively known as the tongue-orchids) are non-resupinate (or seemingly turned upside-down). Instead, the flowers bear a resemblance to the spathe and spadix setup of the Araceae.

This terrestrial orchid grows in sandy substrate in heath and woodland communities. It is commonly found in the Blue mountains (where Wollemia nobilis can also be found) and around the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. It flowers from October to March.

The New York Times published an article on the tongue-orchids in mid-July 2008: Tongue Orchids’ Sexual Guile: Utterly Convincing based on this article: Gaskett, A.C., et al. 2008. Orchid Sexual Deceit Provokes Ejaculation. The American Naturalist. 171:E206-E212. All five Australian tongue-orchid species share the pollinator Lissopimpla excelsa, an ichneumonid wasp.

Cryptostylis erecta

14 responses to “Cryptostylis erecta”

  1. L Jorlin

    What a lovely orchid and great photo! THANKS.
    Also, I am relieved to see an actual plant rather than moving “impressions” or abstractions, as promised until mid-January.

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    I don’t recall that promise being made.

  3. Ken

    Thanks again for using my photo, and providing further information. The author of the American Naturalist paper was at Macquarie University which is about 3 miles (5km) from where the photo was taken. It probably grows on the campus.

  4. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    A beautiful orchid, and lovely photo.
    I discovered this site almost a year ago. I’ve been receiving the daily photos since then, and I often browse through the hundreds/thousands of photos of previous years. I have very much enjoyed ALL of the BPoD photos, whether of flowers, mosses, fungi, algae, grasses, landscapes, abstracts… whatever the subject of the photo.
    And I very much appreciate the considerable time and effort involved in providing the images and the accompanying information — gratis — to whomever subscribes.
    You have provided me with new sources of beauty and interest and thought.
    Thank you!

  5. Sheila

    Beautiful. I love seeing the new photos that you post every day. The scenes the last couple of months have been equally enjoyable since they show the plants from every angle. Thank you for taking the time to provide learning and natural beauty to us, especially in these bleak cold months of December in the midwest.
    Keep up the good work!

  6. Joey

    I would think that the comment about abstracts being featured until mid-January was due to a moment of confusing the photos/information from 2006 with current features. At this time in 2006 abstract photos were being featured and “promised” until mid-January.

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    thank you lovely flower
    ken has a fine flicker page
    the beatle shown on the white
    flower is a true abstract
    this has been a fine year on
    daniels page lots of work
    time and real effort
    hope we havent tired you all out
    looking forward to 009 i hope

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    excuse me but are you all deep in snow
    and freezeing warnings from what i
    am reading you just might be
    take care

  9. KinMD

    i quite enjoyed the abstractions of winter ’06, myself. in fact, every post i see keeps me coming back for more– thanks again, Daniel!
    The site below has photo of Cryptostylis erecta from a different angle, highlighting the patterning in a different way:
    after a quick web search, i also found the Friends of Lane Cove National Park Inc. website (below) offers more information and pictures of Australian native plants and wildflowers, including a breakdown of flowering plants by month… neat stuff!

  10. A

    WOW! This world is amazing! Merry Christmas everyone!!

  11. Equisetum

    Ruth, you make me feel better about not figuring out my orchids! Great elucidation, and you couldn’t have had a better picture for it — nor a prettier!

  12. garry

    It appears that yo should rename this site the Botany Photo of the week.

  13. Daniel Mosquin

    And a Merry Christmas to you, Garry!

  14. Eugenio Larios

    Nice picture of Cryptostylis erecta. One interesting fact about this orchid is that lures its pollinator the orchid dupe wasp and makes it copulate with the lip. The wasp actually ejaculates after that wasting some amount of sperm!

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