Many Flowered, Grass-Pink

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…an ever changing configuration of pink- surprising a bee.

The Many-Flowered Grass-Pink, Calopogon multiflorus, is a threatened terrestrial orchid. A perennial herb that makes wet flatwoods, damp meadows and even pine scrubs its home. A solitary erect stem grows from a corm that is a bulb-like underground stem that stores food. Stem height usually ranges between15 and 24 inches. The stem has one or two narrow, linear grass-like leaves.

Multiflorus got its common name, Many-Flowered, because the plant can hold as many as 10 to 15 flowers all blooming at once. Flowers are colored magenta-purple to scarlet red. The fragrant flower consists of 3 sepals and 3 petals. Sepals are broad and elliptic in shape each about 1 inch long. Two petals are slightly smaller and somewhat lance shaped. A modified third petal called a lip is located in the upper part of the bloom. The white colored lip is anvil shaped wider than it is long and is covered with orange or yellow hairs that mimic nectar. Attached to the base of the lip is an upward curved column with a tip that has fused pollen bearing stamens and sticky female stigmas. A nectar seeking bee is deceived by the pollen-like hairs into landing on the lip. The weight of the bee causes the lip to bend downward until it comes into contact with the tip of the column sandwiching the bee. If there is pollen on the bee’s abdomen the sticky stigmas will grab it. Otherwise, the stamens will dump pollen on the bee’s behind. The bee is then sent on its way with no nectar for its efforts.

So, here how the flower is structured. At 12 o’clock is the lip. At 2 is a lateral sepal, a petal is at 4, the dorsal sepal and column are at 6, the second petal at 8 and a lateral sepal at 10.
The specimen in the picture was found in the pine scrub at Rookery Bay. The specimen is a new growth barely six inches high.

Dorothy Rodwell