Caladenia tentaculata – A Sophisticated Mimic

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Caladenia (Arachnorchis) tentaculata aka Mantis Orchid, or King Spider Orchid
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Caladenia (Arachnorchis) tentaculata aka Mantis Orchid, or King Spider Orchid

Caladenia (Arachnorchis) tentaculata aka Mantis Orchid, King Spider Orchid and a host of other names
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Angiospermae
Class: Liliopsida (?) Monocots (?)
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Scott Creek Conservation Park – October 11th, 2014 – warm, dry conditions on Currawong Ridge Track

Photos & Text: Michal Dutkiewicz

I took these pictures on a warm, windy day and these Orchids are a striking sight – waving about. The Australian bush is full of spiky-looking critters, especially insects, and this Spider Orchid is designed to attract just such a critter, using its critter-like features, as well as its pheromones! – The tentacles have a wasp-like scent that draws the male Thynnine Wasp in to pollinate with the “apparent” flightless female it sees in the shape of the middle of the flower. The Orchid smears pollen on the Wasp when it attempts to mate, and the pollen is carried to the next Orchid flower by the unsatisfied Wasp, where the pollen is rubbed off, completing the transfer and enabling the fertilization of the flower – A complex, marvellous deception that demonstrates the interwoven evolution of these species by their mutual dependence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia
http://biology-assets.anu.edu.au/hosted_sites/orchid_pollination/

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