BEARDED GREENHOODS - FLOWER & POLLINATION

The pollinator (most likely a small male gnat) is attracted to the cylindrical flower, enters along the labellum and passes through the basal opening.

The labellum is a rigid rod containing yellowish hairs (known to be visually attractive to some fly-type insects) and protrudes from an opening near the base of the hood-like flower.

The labellum is counter-balanced (with what could be mistaken for a fly decoy as if flutters in the wind) and moves upward, closing the opening as the insect crawls along it.

(see photo right)

 

The insects moves upwards, in its attempt to escape, passing through an upper constriction towards an opening near the top.  (see photo left)

This construction is designed to ensure that the escaping insect crawls over the column area anticipating that some of the pollen will stick and be carried away to the next flower or the pollen it is carrying can be dropped off.

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