Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Porroglossum tripollex

Porroglossum is a genus of miniature orchids all of which have spring-loaded moveable, insect-trapping lips.  When the flower is disturbed by a visiting insect, the lip springs up trapping the insect against the column and hopefully effecting pollination.  The genus is related to Masdevallia and includes about 50 species.

This small plant is Porroglossum tripollex from Ecuador.  I have two of these, one with brown "tails" and this with yellow.  The flower looks to me like a bird's beak, but tripollex means "three thumbs," a resemblance I do not see.  It is cool to cold growing and comes from montane forests.

In these photos the flowers all have their insect-trapping lips in the open position, except for several flower in the picture of the plant and the upper flower in the largest picture.  The plant is difficult to photograph with the lips open because the slightest disturbance cause the lips to snap shot.

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