Oil on Board Floated on Panel, 31" x 20", 2005
Orchid: Brassia verrucosa
Native Range: Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, Brazil
Pollinator: Spider hunting wasps
Conservation Status: Not threatened
“Found from Mexico to Venezuela, Brassia verrucosa, was my inspiration for this work. One of the finest species in the genus, the flowers can reach up to 10” or more in length.
Plants are epiphytes in wet forest at elevations from sea level up to over 4,500 feet. Commonly called Spider Orchids, Brassias employ entomophily, or insect pollination. In this case, specifically by female spider-hunter wasps of the genera Pepsis and Campsomeris.
The wasp, mistaking the lip patterning for spider prey, grasps the lip and, while trying to sting the lip, comes into contact with the pollinarium.
To further illustrate the complexities of the orchid world, small spiders whose coloration is so close to that of the Brassia flower that its presence goes undetected lurk among the flowers waiting to feed on the spider-hunter wasps.”