This is the rather unique looking flower of a spider orchid, a species of Caladenia. Spider orchids are often extremely rare – similar to many orchids they rely on relationships with mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, but they also need a tactic called “sexual deception” for pollination. Essentially, the flowers have evolved to look like the females of particular wasp species, and often even release the same pheromones that female wasps do to attract males. Needless to say, when one of these flowers is pollinated at least one male wasp leaves the flower rather confused!
Photo: Adam Cross for our Plant Thursdays!