Hello again! Just back from our Ecuador adventures. More of that in weeks to come, especially as I get my photos organised. For now though, I'll limit my comments on that topic to the irony of my last posting - the only thing we wanted to do and weren't able to was enjoy the Sacha Rainforest tower, which was closed due to storm damage!
I was probably a bit ambitious in promising to get back on line today, given that we only got home last night, my brain is still somewhere over the Pacific, and there is a lot to catch up on here... So, just a brief one today, with a bit more substance tomorrow.
One late flowerer in Canberra (and elsewhere) at the moment is the delightful and improbable Small Duck Orchid Caleana minor; until recently it was given its own genus, Paracaleana. Caleana is for George Caley, an intriguing English plant collector in early 19th century Sydney, working for the great Joseph Banks; more on him in due course.
|Small Duck Orchid, Black Mountain, Canberra|
Perhaps you need a bit of imagination, but I reckon it's a bit ducky, though the 'original' Flying Duck Orchid, Caleana major, which doesn't occur in Canberra, is a bit more convincing.
|Flying Duck Orchid, Bundanoon, New South Wales.|
OK, maybe you need to think more along the lines of Daffy Duck... This is an 'upside down' orchid, in that the labellum, the petal which acts as a landing platform for pollinating insects, is at the top of the flower rather than at the bottom as is more usual - here it forms the duck's head. (That whole concept needs exploring too, but again that's one for another day.) The flower is pollinated by a male sawfly (a wasp relative); the strap holding the labellum is flexible, so the 'head' nods, mimicking a female sawfly, swinging the unrequited male onto the pollen below; the 'upside down' column in this picture is hidden between broad column wings.
|Triggered Flying Duck Orchid.|
After a few minutes the labellum resets and the duck pulls its head out!
It's a great story, but no more so than you'd expect from the fabulous orchids...