Drakonorchis is a name applied to terrestrial tuberous plants in the Orchidaceae family from Western Australia. Hopper and Brown (1992, 1998) proposed this name for a new genus, but then in 2000 reclassified it a subgenus of Caladenia. DL Jones, MA Clements, IK Sharma, and AM Mackenzie in 2001 in a paper entitled A new classification of Caladenia R.Br. (Orchidaceae) elevated it again to genus status. This paper was followed by many others, some in support, some suggesting subgenera status, and others advocating keeping it in Caladenia. Originally thought to include just one species, the Australian Orchid Name Index listed four species. This genus was never widely accepted and further taxonomic work by MA Clements, CG Howard CG1, and JT Miller published in 2015 did not support recognition of this genus as previously proposed. For historical purposes and to avoid confusion we are keeping this page, but adding the species pictured below to the Caladenia wiki page. These species are pollinated by male thynnid wasps. The labellum resembles a female wasp and the plants excrete the scent of this wasp thus attracting the male wasp. They are commonly known as Dragon Orchids.

The Australian terrestrial orchids are notoriously challenging to grow, although some enthusiasts are starting to achieve success by cultivating the symbiotic fungus that many of the orchids require in order to grow. Very careful fertilization is required to keep the fungus and orchid in balance. There's a good discussion of the relationship by clicking on mycorrhiza here.

Drakonorchis barbarossa (Rchb.f.) D.L.Jones & M.A.Clem., syn. Caladenia barbarossa Rchb.f., is known as the common dragon orchid and is found in well-drained to moist soils in many shrubby and forested habitats. It has a hairy basal leaf and a single flower that is greenish with red markings and a wide hairy lip that looks like a female thynnid wasp. The plants photographed below were growing under she-oaks near a river bed in the Stirling Range National Park. We saw quite a number of them in this habitat. Photographs taken September 2007 by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner.

Drakonorchis barbarossa, Bob RutemoellerDrakonorchis barbarossa, Bob RutemoellerDrakonorchis barbarossa, Mary Sue IttnerDrakonorchis barbarossa, Mary Sue IttnerDrakonorchis barbarossa, Mary Sue Ittner

See PBS wiki pages for these genera that have been split and included in Caladenia :
Arachnorchis, Cyanicula, Jonesiopsis, Petalochilus, Stegostyla

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Page last modified on July 01, 2017, at 01:27 PM
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