Tongue-orchids (Cryptostylis) in flower
You can see the Large tongue-orchid, Cryptostylis subulata, and the Small tongue-orchid, Cryptostylis leptochila, flowering now – it is more of the latter at present. Fortunately, the weed slashing on the main tracks seems to have left these orchids intact; now, it’s a matter of being careful not to step on them.
The leaves of these orchids can be seen throughout the year – upright, leathery looking. And there seems to have been a bumper crop developing over the last couple of years: maybe it’s that the drought broke.
The leaves of the Small tongue-orchid have purple backs while those of the Large tongue-orchid are entirely green and more elongated.
In flower, the tongue-orchids are unique, with a striking, mainlyred labellum and slender sepals and petals sticking out from the base of the flower.
These, like the Bird-orchids, use sexual deception in order to ensure pollination, luring the male wasp, Lissopimpla excelsa, into mating. Unlike Bird-orchids, the Tongue-orchids as a group attract the same pollinator. They flower at the same time as this wasp’s mating season and enjoy a relatively high degree of pollination success compared with other orchids using methods of sexual deception for pollination. (For a great discussion about plant/animal interactions and speculation about why it is this kind of wasp the tongue-orchids attract, see this article. This abstract is also interesting with its speculation about the importance of colour and shape for orchids in attracting wasp pollinators.)
These tongue-orchids can be found through-out the Reserve – take a look along the tracks in the southern section, in particular – and will be in flower for another couple of months.
Jones, D.L. (2006) A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Reed New Holland: Sydney.
Mayfield, E. (2006) Flora of the Otway Plain & Ranges 1, Linton Press: Geelong.
Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J. and Chase, M.W. (2001) Genera Orchidacearum: Volume 2. Orchidoideae. Oxford University Press: Oxford. [Google books]