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)

Creating a Sticky Situation

Coryanthes macrocorys
(James Osen)
The bucket orchid, Coryanthes macrocorys, also ensnares euglossine bees. When an unsuspecting male bee visits the orchid, looking to pick up a scent, it falls into the flower’s bucket-like lip. The orchid secretes a sticky liquid, which nearly drowns the bee. “Desperate to escape and unable to fly out due to its wet wings, it must squeeze out an escape hatch in the back of the flower,” says Mirenda. Conveniently, the orchid’s pollen is in that hatch and adheres to the fleeing bee.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus