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Flying Duck Orchid

Tiny flower resembling a flying duck lures insects into its arms, captivates, and enslaves them


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In the southern parts of Australia, there is an unusual kind of orchid with tiny flowers, very similar to a flying duck in shape. Caleana major (known as flying duck orchid) is a small plant that grows in eucalyptus woodlands in coastal areas of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and even Tasmania.

There are about 30,000 species of orchids in the world. They are all different and fool the pollinators in various ways, forcing them to work for themselves, and, as a rule, giving them nothing in return. Male sawflies that pollinate our tricky flying duck orchid view the flower as a female. Deceived insects fly right into the flower, where they are abundantly smeared in pollen.

The duck orchid is a perennial plant. It grows in the wild and blooms in spring to early summer, between September and January. As the plant is rather small and flowers are of a dark colour, it might require a certain level of concentration and attention to spot them in nature. But patient photographers will be rewarded with great pictures.

Another interesting fact is that in 1986, flying duck orchid appeared on Australian postage stamps.

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