Nine Ways to Lure a Lover, Orchid-Style

Beauty, mystery and deceit—the Smithsonian’s collection of nearly 8,000 live orchids has it all

(James Osen)

Bold, Arresting Colors

Paphiopedilum venustum
(James Osen)
Also known as Venus’s slipper orchid, Paphiopedilum venustum, found in Southeast Asia, uses its bold coloration to bait insects. Often, when insects land at the center of the flower, they fall into its cupped lip. In orchid terminology, the lip is one of the flower’s three petals and serves as a landing pad of sorts for its pollinators. “Inside, in tight quarters, insects have difficulty spreading their wings and flying out again and have to climb up the textured rear of the pouch,” says Mirenda. They escape—but in the process, the insects pick up pollen, which they ultimately bring to other flowers

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