Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Orchid

The end of December is a tough time to find a fabulous flower, but the rain forest ecology field trip archives always come to the rescue. This particular orchid (Prosthechea fragrans) as the specific epithet indicates has a wonderful fragrance, which is a bit unusual in orchids. Also unusual it's a "right side up" flower. Most orchids are resupinate meaning that their flower stalk twists 180 degrees, or the inflorescence is pendent and therefore upside down, which places the distinctive petal on the bottom, while here it is on the top. The neat thing about this view is that you can see the two pollinia, waxy masses of pollen, ready to be picked up and dispersed. No idea what pollinates this flower; never seen a visitor, but the nectar guides and flower size (~3 cm across) would indicate a bee.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I read "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean and it was very interesting. I was surprised how much orchid collecting has been going on since Victorian times. People sent out huge ships back then to collect thousands of orchids. I learned so much about them, I wish I could get into growing them soon.