Friday, 10 January 2014

Weird orchids ... on camera

Orchids are deceitful temptresses, cunningly luring their victims with their wily ways.

Take a look at this fascinating video by Esther Beaton, focusing on Australian orchids.

There are many ways in which orchids are pollinated, but the majority require a third-party pollinator to transfer pollen from one plant to another. Some provide a pollen or nectar food reward; others simply mimic food-rewarding plants but provide no treat.

One of the more interesting pollination syndromes in Australia is sexual deception. Male thynnine wasps are drawn in by pheromones, and then mate with the flowers, thinking they are female wasps. This transmits pollen between plants. These relationships are very specific, with many individual species of orchid pollinated by individual species of wasp.

Pictured: Drakaea livida, from Myles H. M. Menz, Ryan D. Phillips, Kingsley W. Dixon, Rod Peakall and Raphael K. Didham (2013) on "Mate-Searching Behaviour of Common and Rare Wasps and the Implications for Pollen Movement of the Sexually Deceptive Orchids They Pollinate". 

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