It’s moose hunting season! Species of the month: Moose Orchid

This month’s feature species is the Moose Orchid or Large Tongue Orchid (Cryptostylis subulata).

The Moose Orchid has long and leathery green leaves that are erect and lance shaped, and is usually found growing in swamps, marshes and stream edges. The flowering stems can range from 20 cm up to over 120 cm tall! The flower is an unusual shape – looking like a rolled tongue! It is pollinated by particular male wasps (Lissopimpla sp.) that mistake the flower for a female wasp and attempts to mate with it. In the process, pollen is transferred from one flower to another.

There are five different species of Cryptostylis in Australia, with C. subulata being found across all southern states. It’s the only one that occurs here in SA, and is listed as Vulnerable.

This is a fairly rare cryptic orchid, flowering from December through to February. So get out there and check the swamps; a moose could be waiting for you!!

Sheryl Holliday