Habenaria repens


Habitat: terrestrial/aquatic in very wet, open places
Common name: Water Spider Orchid
Blooming: late spring to early winter
Comments: this species bears diminutive, spidery flowers about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.25 to 2 cm) across. Upon first glance, the floral structure of the flowers can be confusing...there appear to be eight floral parts, which would not follow the usual orchid plan of three sepals and three petals. Closer examination solves the puzzle: the petals are, rather unusual among orchids, deeply bilobed, with the upper lobe hugging the margin of the dorsal sepal and the lower lobe curving out and upward. The lip is deeply trilobed, with two narrow side lobes and one thicker central lobe. A spur extends down from the rear of the lip, forming a narrow nectary filled with nectar for only the last few millimeters. This forces its pollinator (a night flying moths with a long proboscis) to push its head into the column where pollinia are deposited or removed, as the case may be.

Reproducing both sexually and vegetatively via stolons, this orchid will often form dense colonies. During the evening and nighttime hours, these orchids’ flowers emit a very powerful fragrance, apparently to attract night-flying moths.



Flower closeup.

Extreme closeup of these whimsical flowers (this image not available as a high-resolution print).

Another extreme closeup. This image is also not available as a high-resolution print.

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