Caleana Major : The Flying Duck Orchid
25/September/2014 (ITNN)>>>> Caleana major, the Flying Duck Orchid, is a small orchid found in eastern and southern Australia. This terrestrial plant features a remarkable flower, resembling a duck in flight.
The flower is an attractant to insects, such as male sawflies which pollinate the flower in a process known as pseudocopulation.
So, Australia is a country that has not only duck-looking animals, but also plants that resemble a duck. Besides the bizarre looking, duck-billed platypus, Australia also has Caleana, the orchid that looks so much like a flying duck.
The two other petals of Caleana look more like sepals and stretch back, almost like the wings of a duck in flight. This makes the labellum appear larger to insects than it actually is and increases its chances of attracting a sawfly to its pollen. It has another trick up its metaphorical sleeve, too.
The duck orchid is a perennial but blooms in late spring or early summer. At up to 45 centimeters in height you might think it would stand out in its natural habitat.
Fortunately for the duck orchid, it is found in hundreds of locations in the south west of Australia. If, however, you want to see this remarkable orchid for yourself, you will have to visit its country of origin and call on it at home. There are, after all, many worse ways to spend your vacation.
The original specimen of this plant was collected at Bennelong Point, the present day site of the Sydney Opera House in September, 1803.
In 1986 this orchid was featured on an Australian postage stamp.
Caleana major has been difficult to maintain in cultivation. Plants flower for one or sometimes two years but progressively weaken until they die.
Family : Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee)
Genus : Caleana (kal-ee-AN-uh)
Species : Major (MAY-jor)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
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Bloom Time :
Late Spring/Early Summer
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