Calypso orchid - ROM2004_1276_4


Calypso orchid

Geography: Canada, Ontario
Date: Acquired by the Museum in 1995 AD
    • Attributes
    • Objects
    • Taxonomy
    • KingdomPlantae
    • PhylumMagnoliophyta
    • ClassMagnoliopsida
    • OrderOrchidales
    • FamilyOrchidaceae
    • GenusCalypso
    • SpecificEpithetbulbosa
Object number: ROMBOT_IM_10913
Credit Line: Mary Ferguson, FPSA
Not on view
DescriptionCalypso (Calypso bulbosa) is a species of orchid that grows on drier sites within forests and bogs. It has a circumboreal distribution, that is, it is found throughout the boreal regions of North America and Eurasia. Calypso is gradually becoming extirpated from southern locations perhaps due to climate warming and because of loss of habitat and picking by individuals. The species name “bulbosa” refers to the bulbous corm, an underground organ that stores nutrient energy. Around flowering time, the single leaf of calypso withers and dies. A new leaf grows in the fall and remains green throughout the winter. The genus and common names refer to Calypso, a mythical Greek sea nymph. Its other common name “fairy slipper” refers to the shape of its “lip,” the broadened lower petal that, in various shapes and sizes, is a feature common to all orchids. As in lady-slipper orchids, the sides of the lip are folded up to form a small pouch. The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees which are attracted to the yellow hairs on the lip. Entering the flower in search of nectar, the bumblebee brushes against the pollen clusters, or pollinia, which attach to its back. Finding no nectar, the bee backs out of the flower in such a way that the pollinia become attached to the stigma of the flower, thus allowing self-fertilization. It is thought that the bumblebees soon learn that they are being deceived by the pink and yellow flowers and that the plants spread mostly by vegetative growth underground.
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