I'm an environmental consultant, business owner and wannabe writer living in Canberra, Australia. Visit my blog at www.sustainabilitysoapbox.com.
At this year's Canberra Spring Orchid Show you will see first hand that there is far more to orchids than just the flamboyant blooms that you see at the local florist.
Believe it or not, many of these plants employ sexual deception and other ingenious techniques to attract and manipulate their pollinators. (You don't get to be one of the largest flowering-plant families - comprising around 25,000 wild orchid species and 100,000 registered hybrid - without having a few tricks up your sleeve.)
Sexual mimicry & other pollination antics
At the show you will be able to marvel at the diversity and beauty of these plants while you learn about the lengths that they go to to reproduce, such as: mimicking the look and smell of female insects; pretending to be other flowers that promise nectar and then not delivering; and trapping insects and then forcing them to climb out through narrow exits where they can't avoid the flowers' pollen sacs.
These plants are truly remarkable. Unfortunately many of them, including some fascinating indigenous orchids, are endangered as their habitat is being lost and damaged by urban expansion and other human activities or they fall victim to grazing animals and unscrupulous orchid hunters who illegally take these plants from the wild.
What to expect at the show
There will be lots of native and exotic orchids on show, as well as orchid-related art and photography.
You can also learn how to grow, repot and care for these amazing plants and talk with Society members, including one of the world's most knowledgeable orchid biologists.
Refreshments and a wide range of orchids grown by commercial and local hobby growers will be available for sale, as well as updated copies of the Society's book "Growing Orchids in Cool Climate Australia: with Special Reference to Canberra" - full of information for the lay person about orchids and their cultivation.
And while you're at it, why not visit the Thelychiton speciosus display house at the Australian National Botanic Gardens where they hope to have a large display of these spectacular native Rock Orchids (formerly Dendrobium speciosus) in full flower this weekend?