This orchid, referred to as the King is His Carriage, is a sneaky flower. But how is it sneaky, and what else does it have in store for us? Let's check the science and find out!
Physical Description and Behavior
This flower can be up to 10 inches tall, with a couple of stalks radiating out from the tip. One of the stalks holds the stoma of the flower, which is dark purple and is shaped like a female wasp. In fact, this plant is pollinated specifically by the Zaspilothynnus trilobatus, otherwise known as the Turner Wasp, which has co-evolved together with this plant.
The way this flower pollinates is by tricking this particular wasp into having sex. The flower looks attractive to male wasps, who get the pollen all over themselves during coitus, and spreads it to other flowers. In fact, the flower even seems to smell like a female wasp to the males.
This is definitely a strange way to pollinate a flower, but this seems to have competitive advantages. Due to competition among flowers, having a unique way to pollinate puts you ahead of the game. This is because you are almost guaranteed to have a pollinator every year if you only focus on attracting very specific insects that other plants might ignore.
Habitat and Location
These flowers can be found in Western Australia, near the shores of Perth and Albany. This includes the entire shoreline between Esperance and Geraldton. They prefer to grow in gravelly soils that fill up with water during the winter.
The Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife has determined that this flower is not threatened, but it is important to watch this plant as climate change can affect the species it uses to pollinate.
You can find out more about this flower by watching the video below