SPICULEA (spiked column wings) CILIATA (soft hairs on the labellum).
This remarkable orchid is the product of a much harsher environment than
that of the present.
It has adapted to survive, flower and reproduce in the summer months (November
to January) when all surface moisture is absent.
It is widely distributed inland to the goldfields and west to the Darling
Scarp where it grows in thin layers of moss and soil on and around granite
sheets of rock.
To withstand the environmental hazards, the leaf and stem dry off from
the base upward to force the sap up the succulent stem enabling the buds
to open in turn.
This survival trait is demonstrated well when a plant can be plucked,
placed in a letter and sent by post without any protection half way across
the world to the USA or to Europe, and when received the buds will continue
The pollinating strategy is similar to that of the Drakea where
the insect imitating labellum is attached to a wiry stem hinged in the
centre. Although not sensitive it can only move in the direction of the
column (as with Drakea) and achieves pollination via pseudo-copulation.
The male wasps, attempting to carry off the sham female, are carried forward
and guided by the spiked column wings either to transfer pollen to the
stigma or to be daubed with pollen to be carried to another plant.
A truly remarkable orchid.
Ron Heberle April 2003