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Not meaning to double post, so I'll put a link here. The link contains videos and different photos, with more detail. Blog posts tend to become obscure quite quickly, so I thought I would link here to my own post about this interesting flower.


I've been reading quite a bit lately about orchids. There are tens of thousands of species on all continents but Antartica - and almost there as well. About 1/3 of orchids depend on their ability to deceive animals into thinking the orchid flower is a sex object. Orchid flowers use color, shapes, and scent to fool insects into interacting with them. The deception is so effective that in at least one case, it leads to ejaculation in the flower. In other cases, the insects and the orchids coevolved into mutual dependency. The deceptions include fooling insects into thinking that the orchid flower is insect carrion, other flowers, and especially female insects. The insect "fraud victims" include bees, wasps, hornets, moths, and others.


In return, the orchid gives nothing to the insect, unlike the many plants that provide nutrition in the form of nectar and pollen.


Darwin wrote a treatise on orchids, and they were an interest to Wallace as well.


Orchids have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. The are adapted to live in the tops of trees, on rocks, and in the soil. I have a special interest in epiphytes. The idea that plants serve as structural and nutritional substrates for othern plants, emphasizes the coevolution of life on earth and demonstrates the prophound adaptability of plant species.


The old botanical prints here are antique, from the 1800, so I hope there are no copyright violations in copying them. My greater concern is that some may have been removed from books, and sold on the internet.

Tags: evolution, orchid

Views: 614

Replies to This Discussion

Jeff,
This week I gave in to temptation and ordered this book online. An Enthusiasm for Orchids: Sex and Deception in Plant Evolution. by John Alcock I'll let you know what I think of it.
Thanks, Daniel. I had no idea. My wife and I live in Hawaii where orchids require only an occasional rain shower to thrive. They are my wife's favorite flower, and are so popular here that the local museum has an annual orchid sale as a fundraiser.

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