Ruth has written today’s entry:
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.