Most plants out there are self-pollinating, meaning they can reproduce without the help of anyone or anything. Orchids on the other hand cannot. In the wild, orchids rely on insects to spread their pollen and reproduce. In fact, a little while back National Geographic did a fascinating article on this topic.
Since some orchids are nectar-less, they need other ways of attracting insects to come to their aid. And masters they are in this game of sex and deception. You will even start to second guess if we are truly the highest species on the planet once you know the ingenious antics they’ve come up with over the past million years.
Girl of Your Dreams
One clever way that orchids do this is by copying. Did you know that some orchid’s flowers imitate the female version of some insects? They do this specifically to attract male insects. Some orchid’s flowers mimic the wings and scent of female insects to trick them into carrying their pollen for them.
Some even look and feel like the insects themselves complete with color and texture. Once these insects take the bait, the flower affixes the pollen onto them. And voila! The rest, as they say, is history.
Food For Thought
Another trick orchids use to attract potential pollinators is food. Since there are orchids that cannot produce nectar and oils, some just pose like they do. Seemingly offering nectar, these wise orchids have their ways on these clueless insects and draw them near to use them for pollination by looking ever so tasty.
Some also produce sweet scents that could even fool us into thinking they really have nectar. Some on the other hand exude the foulest smell to attract a specific kind of insect, such as a fly. Before insects know they were deceived, they are already packed with pollen ready for transfer.
Evolution has made it possible for orchids to have a real fighting chance of surviving in this world. And living longer than we have been, they truly are amazing. Some may even say they are better than humans at finding their mates.
Thank goodness orchids have been so clever, so we may continue to enjoy them. Please leave your comments about this fascinating topic below.
For more information on multiplying orchids, check out The #1 Method for Successful Orchid Propagation.