Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Fascinating Sardinian Orchids

"Orchid hunting can be arduous in many places but in the mountains of Sardinia 'Ophrys' orchids grow like roadside weeds! When they bloom in April you can spot them from a moving car. Close up, the lower lip, or labellum, of these diminutive orchids bears an uncanny resemblance to a female bee as viewed from behind. This pseudobee, which is some Orphrys species come complete with fake fur and what appear to be elbows and folded iridescent wings, look as through she has her head buried in a green flower formed by the actual flower's sepals. To reinforce the deception, the orchid gives off a scent that has been shown to closely match the pheromones of the female bee.

On the island of Sardinia, the flowers of mirror orchids perfectly mimic the reflection of blue ski on a female wasp's wings. Male wasps, beguiled by the flower's sight and scent, are lured into service carrying pollen from plant to plant." Click here for picture.

Excerpts from National Geographic Magazine Sept 2009 entitled Sneaky Orchids by Michael Pollan.