The Elbow orchid Spiculaea ciliata is a remarkable plant that flowers from November to January by storing water in its fleshy stem. I recently learnt about it while perusing Narrogin Herbarium specimens, and was assured that I could find them amongst pincushion plants on Yilliminning Rock. It was beautiful on the rock after yesterday’s rainfall until the delightful discovery of a champagne cork and a condom prompted me to move away from 4WD areas to a surprising display of late season flowers in more protected places.
After a long time crawling over very prickly plants, I found a single insignificant orchid. You have to be a masochist or an orchid enthusiast to do this. Probably both.
Having said that the orchid is highly evolved and intricate. The insect-like labellum that emits a pheromone to attract male Thynnid wasps. The males normally pick up flightless females and deposit them on a flower before mating. As the labellum is attached by a weak hinge, when the male tries to lift his “mate”, it swings up and is held by the mantis-like wings (note serrations) to pollinate and collect more pollen as it struggles to free itself.
I found South African orchids in a line of bush running the eastern side of the rock. Disa bracteata (syn Monadenia bracteata is a relatively unattractive fleshy plant, but a great survivor that can compete in pastures. It is listed as a weed.
It is thought to have introduced in sacking that covered goods unloaded at Albany.
They appear in Late October