The Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major) is the oddest of the local Ground Orchids. It is a tiny little flower, little more than 4 cms from tip of its "wings" to its toes, on a stem about 40 cms tall. I thought I should start this blog off with one of my favourite plants.
The reference in the name is to those old fashioned plaster ducks which invaded our Grandmothers' lounge rooms, in the 1940s and 50s. But, the resemblance to the wings and head of a flying duck is quite remarkable. Of course, the resemblance is completely co-incidental (from the point of view of the Orchid).
In fact the "head" (technically, the "labellum" or "lip" of the flower), is sensitive to the presence of tiny insects, which are attracted to the flower. The head snaps down, trapping any unsuspecting small insect inside the body of the flower, where there is a tiny hole at the back, through which it can escape. But in so doing, it gets dobbed with the sticky pollen of the Orchid. Presumably the insect once it escapes, repeats this trick on another Orchid flower, thus completing the fertilisation process.