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Chiloglottis formicifera facts for kids

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Common ant orchid
Ant Orchid - Chiloglottis formicifera (8630715290).jpg
Scientific classification
  • Myrmechila formicifera (Fitzg.) D.L.Jones & M.A.Clem.

Chiloglottis formicifera, commonly known as the common ant orchid, is a species of orchid endemic to New South Wales. It has two broad leaves and a single narrow, greenish or reddish flower with a black, ant-like callus covering most of the upper surface of the labellum. There is a single record of this species from New Zealand.


Chiloglottis formicifera is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with two leaves 30–60 mm (1–2 in) long and 15–25 mm (0.6–1 in) wide. A single greenish or reddish flower 12–16 mm (0.5–0.6 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide is borne on a flowering stem 60–100 mm (2–4 in) high. The dorsal sepal is spatula-shaped, 10–12.5 mm (0.4–0.5 in) long and about 3 mm (0.1 in) wide. The lateral sepals are 9–10 mm (0.35–0.39 in) long, about 0.7 mm (0.03 in) wide and erect at the base then curve downwards. There is a glandular tip about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) long on the end of all three sepals. The petals are lance-shaped with the narrower end towards the base, 8–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) long, about 3 mm (0.1 in) wide and turned strongly downwards. The labellum is diamond-shaped, 7–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) long and 6–7.5 mm (0.2–0.3 in) wide with a narrow, shiny black, ant-like callus covering most of its upper surface. Flowering occurs from August to November.

Taxonomy and naming

Chiloglottis formicifera was first formally described in 1877 by Robert D. FitzGerald and the description was published in his book Australian Orchids from a specimen collected "in a gully at the Kurrajong". The specific epithet (formicifera) is derived from the Latin word formica meaning "ant" with the suffix -fera meaning "bear", "carry" or "have".

Distribution and habitat

The common ant orchid grows in moist places in forest between the Northern Tablelands and Nowra. There is a single historical record from Kaitaia in New Zealand.

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