Floral mimicry of Faboideae in an Australian orchid

While there is increasing recognition of floral mimicry in plants, there are few cases where any explanatory mechanism is confirmed. Scaccabarozzi et al. test for pollination by mimicry in western Australian Diuris orchids, a genus hypothesized to attract pollinators by mimicking a range of sympatric Daviesia species Faboideae.

Diuris brumalis

The mimicry in this system was revealed by pollinator behaviour, examined using artificial clumps of orchids; like Daviesia, Diuris brumalis was pollinated by Trichocolletes spp. (Colletidae). Interestingly, D. brumalis belongs to a complex of species with similar floral traits, suggesting that this genus represents a useful system for investigating speciation in lineages that employ mimicry of food plants.

Further reading

Scaccabarozzi, D., Cozzolino, S., Guzzetti, L., Galimberti, A., Milne, L., Dixon, K. W., & Phillips, R. D. (2018). Masquerading as pea plants: behavioural and morphological evidence for mimicry of multiple models in an Australian orchid. Annals of Botany. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy166