Bees and white spiders: Unravelling the pollination syndrome of Caladenia rigida (Orchidaceae)

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Orchids of the genus Caladenia have been shown to utilise two quite different pollination strategies, namely species-specific sexual deception of thynnine wasps and a more generalist strategy attracting a larger spectrum of foraging insects. While baiting techniques have enabled the identification of numerous pollinators of sexually deceptive Caladenia, insects that pollinate food-advertising species have received little attention. The present study employed a multidisciplinary approach to better evaluate the pollination syndrome of the white spider orchid, Caladenia rigida R.S.Rogers, a species previously reported to utilise both food and sexual deception. This included the observation and capture of potential pollinators of C. rigida through direct observation, pantraps, Malaise traps and pollinator-baiting experiments, and the use of molecular techniques to identify orchid pollinia isolated from carrier insects. We describe a suite of generalist insects visiting and bearing pollinia from C. rigida. In addition, samples collected from the labellum and column of C. rigida contained sugars at levels comparable to those of a known nectar-producing orchid, Microtis parviflora R.Br. Potential osmophores in the clubs and calli stained positively with neutral red and although this character is often associated with sexual deception, we found no evidence for this secondary pollination syndrome in C. rigida. The present study is the first one to provide a detailed description of the pollinators and pollination syndrome of a non-sexually deceptive species within the genus Caladenia and the first report to provide evidence of nectar production by a species within this genus. © CSIRO 2009.




Faast, R., Farrington, L., Facelli, J. M., & Austin, A. D. (2009). Bees and white spiders: Unravelling the pollination syndrome of Caladenia rigida (Orchidaceae). Australian Journal of Botany, 57(4), 315–325.

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