Hammer Orchid Facts
- First of all, we must point out that the term Hammer Orchid serves as the collective common name for an entire genus of plants. Secondly, that truly remarkable genus, named Drakaea, contains a total of ten species of orchids. Quite understandably, all ten of these fascinating varieties remain extremely similar in terms of general appearance.
- Quite remarkably, the first member of this amazing group of flowers was officially recognized in 1840. The noted English botanist, John Lindley made this first formal identification. The distinctive common name derives from the unique shape of a part of the flower, in addition to the manner in which it moves during the process of pollination.
- In addition, a total of five of the various plants known by the term Hammer Orchid appear on the IUCN Red List. Currently, the various members of the genus on the list hold the status of either Threatened or Endangered. Further, the local government of the area in which these appear classifies them as Priority One, on its own scale.
- Further, that same local government considers that each member of the genus needs special protection. The greatest threats these have faced previously included habitat loss, along with the decline of an insect species they depend on. However, the threat of climate change now looms over them, as it does many species around the world today.
Hammer Orchid Physical Description
Since the term Hammer Orchid applies to a total of ten different species, certain physical differences understandably occur. However, the members of the genus nevertheless remain extremely similar in terms of physical characteristics. In fact, the physical resemblance between them remains so strong that to the untrained eye they may appear completely identical to each other.
In fact, the greatest difference between the various members of the incredible genus remains the sheer height of the delicate stems. That’s due to the fact that, between the ten different types, the stem ranges in height from about 8 – 12 in (20. 3 – 30.5 cm). For the rest of the various parts of the various types of plants, these continue to be nearly identical in appearance to the untrained eye.
Firstly, these physical characteristics of the Hammer Orchid includes the presence of a single, thumbnail-sized leaf that hugs the ground. Secondly, the stem bears a bract resembling a leaf. This appears just below the halfway point of the stem. Further, a single flower develops at the apex of the stem. The labellum has a dark, purplish color. Meanwhile, the petals vary slightly in color, but usually appear various shades of pink.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Monocots
- Order: Asparagales
- Family: Orchidaceae
- Genus: Drakaea
Hammer Orchid Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Not surprisingly, all ten of the different species within the genus known collectively as the Hammer Orchid live in a warm climate. However, all ten of these astounding flowers also live within a comparatively small section of the continent of Australia. Yet even more specifically, they appear only in the southwest portion of western Australia. This tiny area comprises the botanical province, between the Geraldton and Esperance provinces.
Also not surprisingly, all of the various forms of this particularly unique and fascinating orchid live in almost identical types of habitats. For so many related species to live in such close proximity remains quite rare. Furthermore, unlike most varieties of orchid, these remarkable flowers most commonly appear in regions consisting of loose, sandy soil. Additionally, they also often appear in the immediate vicinity of granite rocks.
In addition, each of the various members of the wonderful genus, together known as the Hammer Orchid, evolved a highly specialized nature. In its case, each species developed an extremely close relationship with wasps in the Thynnidae family. Furthermore, in most cases, each of the ten species achieves its pollination through the activities of a single, different species of wasp in this family. However, a few share pollinators with other orchids.
In addition, the relationship between the wasps and the plants remain complex. Among this type of wasp, only the males possess wings. During mating, the male carries the female to a food source, typically one of the members of this genus. But, due to the extraordinary evolution of these flowers, the labellum resembles the female wasp in shape, and even in scent. Finally, pollination of the Hammer Orchid only occurs when the male attempts to carry of the labellum.