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Darwin's OrchidsThen and Now$
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Retha Edens-Meier and Peter Bernhardt

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226044910

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226173641.001.0001

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The Sun Orchids (Thelymitra) Then and Now:

The Sun Orchids (Thelymitra) Then and Now:

Large Flowers versus Small Flowers and Their Evolutionary Implications

(p.173) Seven The Sun Orchids (Thelymitra) Then and Now
Darwin's Orchids

Retha Edens-Meier

Peter Bernhardt

University of Chicago Press

As in the previous two chapters, Australian orchids caught Darwin’s attention thanks to correspondence and publications by R. D. Fitzgerald (1830-1892). Darwin compared two Thelymitra species with self-pollinating Ophrys apifera (see Chapter 3). In fact, bee-pollination of some Thelymitra spp. was not observed until the last few decades of the 20th century. This chapter shows that cross- and self-pollination in this genus occur along a gradient. Unlike the majority of orchid flowers, the center of pollinator attraction in Thelymitra is the hooding column structure known as the clinandrium (mitra) not the labellum. Some species may evolve due to a past history of hybridization between parent species.

Keywords:   Australian, bee pollination, clinadrium, Fitzgerald, hybridization, labellum, self-pollination, Thelymitra

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