Japanese scientists figured out why we need orchid flowers that look like herons.

Researchers from Kobe University have found that the fringes of orchid flowers are essential not for attracting pollinators, but for hawk moths to cling to during pollination. Article published in the journal Ecology.

The egret orchid got its name because its glossy white leaves resemble a flying bird. Legend has it that the spirit of a dead white heron was reborn in an orchid flower.

Scientists assumed that such a form was necessary to attract hawk moths. But the removal of the fringes did not lead to a decrease in the frequency of pollination, and the butterflies found the orchid flowers no worse. The experiment was carried out in a natural environment. The researchers found that in tufted flowers, the percentage of healthy seeds in fruit was lower than in undamaged flowers.

Hawk moths, the main pollinator of this orchid, usually hold the eave with their feet to avoid falling while drinking nectar. Scientists have noticed that butterflies are often unable to do this on plants that have had their fringes removed. Therefore, most likely without the stability provided by the fringe, the hawk will not be able to transfer enough pollen to the plant, causing the non-fringed plants to take in fewer pollen grains and produce less healthy seeds.

This important study shows that a beautiful fringe isn’t just a way to attract pollinators. It has evolved to fit the anatomy of the pollinator to make the flower’s reproduction more efficient.

Source: Gazeta


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


More from author