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Herminium monorchis

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 9 July 2010 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

Series: European Terrestial Orchids

Herminium monorchis (Musk orchid / Honingorchis) is one of the smallest orchids in Europe. This diminutive orchid is easily overlooked but when found is not hard to identify. The total plant measures on average between 5 and 10 cm and there are 20-30 individual tiny greenish-yellow flowers in a densely packed spike. Individial flowers measure about 2.5mm wide x 3 mm from front to back. Unless examined closely, the lip is hardly different in appearance to the petals and sepals, and the flower therefore appears to be made up of six almost identical narrow 'petals' taht form a tiny bell. Despite the English name this orchid does not smell musk but have a sweet, honey-like scent (like the Dutch name: Honing = honey). The flowers are pollinated by very small insects, typically just 1 - 1.5mm long. The pollinia are attached to the insects' legs ... I watched a tiny parasitic wasp pollinating several flowers and managed to get some good images (really macro work !!!). Once I have a determination on the species I will show a picture of these. It is not the most attractive european orchid in terms of color or structure, but the pollination and reproduction biology is just stunning. I'll tell more about that when showing the pollinator at work.

Image: Dollendorf (DE) - 02/07/2010
Taken with 150mm macro + 1.4 convertor at minimum working distance. Image not cropped so this is a magnification of 1.4/1

Canon EOS 400D 1/125 second F/10.0 ISO 200 210 mm

© Johan Dierckx

The photos on this site are copyrighted, which prohibits anyone to use them to sell, give away, use in email or newsgroups, use in a homepage or otherwise showing to the public without my explicit, prior, written permission. Please feel free to use the "contact"-button below to contact me with any questions.

All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)

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Monique from Koh Samui, Thailand

Als ik lees hoe klein 't plantje is en de afzonderlijke bloemetjes heb ik hier nog meer bewondering voor! Geen kleurrijk orchideetje, maar wel erg mooi van vorm en ik kan niet wachten dat wespje in actie te zien!

9 Jul 2010 6:26am

@Monique: De foto van het wespje volgt zeker nog, maar ik wil eerst een zekere determinatie van de soort en dat heeft wat tijd nodig. Het is een vreemde soort. Ze is zo klein en zo "graskleurig" dat je ze ontzettend gemakkelijk over het hoofd ziet (en dus ook vertrapt op de vindplaatsen). Eens je de eerste gezien hebt, zie je er vaak tientallen tot onderden staan... en sta je middenin de populatie. Als ze in wat hoger gras staan zie je ze al helemaal niet meer...

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

The biology of this species is very interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing the pollinator.

9 Jul 2010 5:13pm

@Julie Brown: A picture of the pollinator will surely follow, just waiting to get the right determination. Looking at nature is interesting, getting into the biology and ecology of the species makes it double. I appreciate your interest :-) making it worthwhile to write some more explannations... Thx, Julie.

daniela scharnowski from Berlin, Germany

uh, the extraterrestial friends again ;) your light is -again- wonderful! natural light is so superior, this is just another proof.

9 Jul 2010 5:48pm

@daniela scharnowski: I always try to find or wait for the good light to make images. On a one-day trip (e.g. to Germany as for this one) it is not always possible to get the most beautiful conditions - it's just the way it is that day ... Closer to home I just go back and back (that is for plants of course - for insects that is not possible :-) ) I'm glad you notice :p

marc battault from clermont ferrand, France

magnifique macro ,les petales semblent etre en sucre !!!
...............pour mon papillon ,tu as effectivement entierement raison ,j'ai effectué d'autres recherches !merci ,pour l'info !!
amitiés !

9 Jul 2010 8:31pm

@marc battault: Thank you very much, Marc. Glad you like this image.
I added your blog to my watch list... some very nice images in your portfolio. Hope to see more . Always glad to help with determinations .

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

I can't wait to see the pollinator up close. btw your color scheme is amazing on this ;)

10 Jul 2010 4:21am

@Dutçh: The pollinator will come up soon ... The color scheme is an addition to my collection "greens of nature" :-) Glad you noticed :p

Canon EOS 400D
1/125 second
ISO 200
210 mm