Journal Number 102
February 2007


By Ian St George

Why is Cryptostylis called Cryptostylis?

Well, crypto means hidden, and style is the column. "Hidden column".

Why? Well, because the labellum is uppermost, hiding the column, and that state is called nonresupination.

Why? Well, you lie "prone" when you are face down, and "supine" when you are face up.

The orchid flower develops with its labellum uppermost, and  during development most twist
so the labellum is lowermost: the act of "resupination" (OK, it should be simply "supination"
to describe the act of lying supine, but it isn't).

Some orchid flowers, Cryptostylis included, never resupinate, keep their labellum uppermost,
so hiding their column. Other nonresupinate flowers actually resupinate then twist a further
180 degrees, a total of 360 degrees from their original position. These include Prasophyllum
and are also therefore nonresupinate.

Why resupination and nonresupination? goodness knows, but nonresupination is said to be a
sign of self pollination - the labellum presumably not a platform for insects. But there are an
awful lot of exceptions to that rule - insect pollinated Cryptostylis subulata and Prasophyllum
hectori for instance.




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