Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids

Chiloglottis longiclavata

Northern Wasp Orchid

Chiloglottis longiclavata D.L.Jones, Austral. Orch. Res. 2: 38-39, f. 46 (1991). Type: Queensland; Cook District; SFR 194, Parish of Western, Herberton Range, 1720S, 14525E, 100m, 26 April 1987, B. Gray 4455 (holo CANB; iso CANB).


Occurs in north-eastern Queensland from Atherton Tableland to Eungella.

Altitude: 850-1500 m.


Terrestrial herb forming small colonies. Leaves 2, prostrate, basal, opposite, petioles 3-5 mm long; lamina elliptic, 2.5-6 cm x 1-2 cm, green above, silvery-green below, margins undulate to crisped, apex apiculate. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, single-flowered, 70-100 mm long, slender, fleshy, pinkish; pedicel 20-25 mm long. Flower solitary, porrect, 20-25 mm x 5-6 mm, on pedicel 20-25 mm long, pinkish green with prominent yellowish sepaline osmophores and blackish red labellum calli. Dorsal sepal free, incurved, narrow at the base, widening to ovate or elliptic before the osmophore, 15-18 mm x 2.5 mm; osmophore linear-terete, 4-9 mm long, yellowish. Lateral sepals fused together at base, divergent and recurved, linear, 16-21 mm x 0.5-0.7 mm; osmophore linear-terete, thicker than preceeding sepals, 10-14 mm long, yellowish. Petals reflexed against the ovary, slightly falcate, oblong to lanceolate, 7-8 mm x 2.3 mm, apex acute to subacuminate. Labellum unlobed, obliquely erect, articulated on a short claw 0.3 mm long, rhomboidal, 7-8 mm x 4-5 mm, dark blackish red, with insectiform calli over most of the ventral surface of the labellum, calli stalked or sessile; apex apiculate to caudate, sometimes recuved. Column incurved, 6 mm x 2.5 mm, inner surface pale green with purple markings; 2 apical wings extending above anther; longitudinal central ridge 1 mm wide. Capsules erect, dehiscent.


Grows in small colonies in tall forests and rainforest margins, preferring well-drained grey gravelly loam soils. It occurs on montane ridges, peaks, sheltered slopes and in gullies. On the summit of Mt Bartle Frere it is found growing in stunted montane heath.

Spread is mainly vegetative through the production of daughter tubers at the ends of stolonoid roots. Few plants reproduce sexually and the flowers do not have nectar. Pollination is achieved by flowers assuming both the form and kairomones of wingless female thynnine wasps. Male wasps are deceived by the flowers and 'mate' with them, allowing pollinia to stick to their bodies and be transported to other plants.

Highly localised.

Flowering period: April-June.

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