I was excited to find a Bird Orchid at a Dryandra Woodland reserve on Chomley Road, south-east of Highbury, because I hadn’t seen one for 60 years. My interest in wildflowers began then when my mother and I used to look for orchids in remnant bush at Karrakatta Cemetery. Alas now all graves.
This orchid has always fired my imagination with its elegant shape, translucence and the strange wispy labellum that gives the species name. Barbata means beard.
A few swipes of the trusty scalpel showed that bird orchids are basically redesigned greenhoods with a wispy labellum.
In this case the hood is folded inwards to form the entry and exit spots for gnats with essentially the same column tube and anther location.
I can’t work out how the wisps on the labellum prevent the gnat from escaping out the entry point, but it is hinged like other species to close when activated.
I wonder if the wisps help to spread a pheromone to attract male wasps?
Unlike the Jug and Shell orchids there is no little structure at the base of the labellum to trap gnats and retain them for a miserable death