Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Which flower is this? (22)

This week's flower is a gorgeous, small and dainty flower growing outside Mama Linda's house. It think it is an orchid, but I'm not sure, it doesn't seem to fit the descriptions (see the wikipedia article on orchids here).

I only took these photographs yesterday and as I took them I became more and more fascinated by these little flowers. They grow on a spike, as can be seen in this photo:

There are five petals. The petal at the base is modified so that it forms something like a basin or bowl. It has a small column at the front of this bowl, divided at the top. What is this bowl for? What is the column for? Something to do with pollination? Does it mimic the reproductive parts? The petals also seem to be fused, forming a hollow.

The stamen and style (the reproductive parts) are on the inside of this 'hollow', just at the top. I expect this means the pollen brushes off on insects that wander in and out of the hollow.

However, in the photo below, you can see the stamen (the anthers) but not the style. I think this is at a less mature stage than the previous photo. This would mean that the male reproductive parts (the stamen) mature first and the female part matures afterwards. This would prevent self-pollination. The insects might pick up pollen from these anthers but they couldn't leave it on this flower's stigma, because it isn't there yet. If you look again at the previous photo you will notice that the anthers look quite degraded.

Again, I am interested to know what this flower is. Any help much appreciated. Amy? Prue?


Anonymous said...

Hi Rachael,

I'm a friend of Chris. He told me to have a look at the photo as I have a orchid fascination- its the bio teacher in me.

Im only going to add to your confusion I think. What makes an orchid an orchid. It's the worlds biggest group of plants and there is incredible diversity between the various genus. However what they all have in common is their reproductive parts. They have what is called a 'column' which are fused male and female parts. Therefore if your mystery plant has separate male and female parts, which you seem to think it does then it is not an orchid.

You do however mention a column inside the lip, so check it out for both male and female parts- If together you have yourself an orchid.

Whatever the case, it is a pretty flower.

happy hunting

Prue said...

Hi Rachael,

I don't know if you will actually ever see this comment, but here's my two cents. It's definitely not an orchid.

It is possibly in the mint family (Lamiaceae) or possibly Scrophulariaceae (the family that snapdragons come from). The best way I can suggest for you to decide is to get some of the leaves and crush them in your fingers. If they smell fragrant it is possibly in the mint family. Also, is the stem quadrangular (square-shaped if you cut it)? If yes, it is definitely in the mint family. No idea on genus or species though!

Prue said...

Hmmm. My comment which I was sure I posted, seems to have disappeared. It's not an orchid. My best guess is that it is either in the mint family (Lamiaceae) or Scrophulariaceae (of which snapdragons are a member).

If your specimen has quadrangular stems (square shaped when cut) and leaves which smell fragrant or smelly when crushed, then it's from Lamiaceae. No idea of the genus though!

Rachael said...

Hi Prue,
thanks for your comments. They had disappeared into the ether because I had turned comment moderation on for comments on posts older than 14 days, and then completely forgotten about it. Eventually I found them and posted them. Sorry about that!

I've had a look at my 'specimen' (haven't called them that for years!!) and it does have a quadrangular stem (really obvious 'corners') and the leaves do smell fragrant when crushed. So looks like Laminaceae!