Bee Orchid

Two bee orchid spikes were spotted at Farlington yesterday, these striking flowers appear to be coming more widespread. This orchid has evolved to mimic a certain species of bee. Male bees try to mate with it and then inadvertently pollinate the next flower that they visit. (Friends will be impressed when you explain this to them using the correct term Pseudocopulation!) In fact the particular bee that the orchid mimics doesn’t occur in Britain. The reality here is that the orchid self-pollinates: as the plant ages and weakens gravity and wind make sure the necessary parts come into contact. Other rarer species – such as fly orchids and spider orchids – do rely on insect mimicry to be pollinated – perhaps that’s why they’re rarer?

 

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