deception in orchids - by mimicking female insects, several
groups of orchids lure
male insects to mate with their flowers, accomplishing the
orchid's reproductive goals while frustrating
growing orchids 27 years ago. He quickly became fascinated by
Odontoglossums and their close
relatives because of their beauty and variety. They had a
glamorous past as the most sought after plants in the
orchid frenzy that gripped Europe in the 19th century.
In addition, excellent plants were available from growers
and hybridizers on the West Coast.
He soon realized
that few of the species in this group were readily available
and began collecting them for
propagation and use in hybridizing. His attempt to find
unusual or lost species has led to several trips to the
cloud forests of Mexico &
South America. He
currently grows about 50 Odontoglossum species and another
30-40 relatives, with lots of odont hybrids and a smattering
of other cool growing genera.
Because of his
background as a geneticist, he has long been interested in the
wonderful and elaborate mechanisms
that orchids have developed to induce their pollinators to
visit. Although some orchids reward their pollinators,
many deceive them by appearing to offer food, exotic
fragrances or even sex that is not really there.
In this monthís talk he will
focus on two groups of orchids that sexually deceive their
pollinators, manipulating them
for the procreation of the orchids rather than the insects.