Potato orchid / Hūperei

Submitted by Kids Restore on Fri, 09/09/2016 - 11:07

Because the soil under beech forests is low in nutrients, beech trees cooperate (work together) with fungi for survival. Not all fungi are decomposers (feed on dead organisms). Many fungi wrap their hyphae (feeding threads) around the root tips of trees and feed from the tree and in return provide some nutrients and minerals to the tree as well.

Oliver looking at a black potato orchid near the Control Gates

The potato orchid takes advantage of the fungi! It cannot make its own food (photosynthesise) like all other plants. Its potato like tubers (rhizomes) sprout long flowering stems. They lack roots, but are surrounded by the feeding threads of the fungus that they feed on: a ‘thief’ thieving from a ‘thief’!

Did you know that Māori ate tubers of orchids as snacks? They roasted them in ember or steamed them in a hāngī: yummy!

Potato orchid

Links

New Zealand orchids http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/orchids/page-1

New Zealand’s tallest ground orchid http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/9933/potato-orchid

Did you know? http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/kids/species-profiles/orchid

Colouring page http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/sites/default/files/site-documents/education/documents/orchid_color.pdf

Fifteen amazing facts about orchids http://www.flowerweb.com/en/article/190242/15-Amazing-Facts-About-Orchids

Watch this video

Kid’s orchid painting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoBQ5idprAw