What Is so Special About Orchids?

1739 Words Feb 21st, 2013 7 Pages
What is so special about the Orchidaceae? According to Greek mythology, there once was a satyr named Orchis who was celebrating in the festival of the god of wine. Having had too much to drink, he attempted to rape a priestess and as a result was killed by angry villagers. Orchis’ father prayed to the gods to bring his son back but the gods, being not especially fond of rapists, only returned Orchis as flowers. Thus, according to the Ancient Greeks, was the origin of orchids. However, with modern genetics and the theory of evolution, we know that it is unlikely that members of the Orchidaceae family are the restoration of a satyr. However, this does not dampen the mystical fascination of humans with this family of flowering plants. …show more content…
The European genus of terrestrial orchids, Orchis, gains its name from these structures, which looks like testicles (the Greek word for testicle is órchis). A most notable trait of the orchid is usually its flower. Orchid flowers are unique in a few senses. As in most flowering plants, orchid flowers’ primary function is to attract pollinators. The methods used by orchids to achieve this is very diverse. Almost always there is a petal that is different from other petals. This petal is known as the labellum. The labellum is the median petal that faces the column. This lip can be used for multiple functions in different species of orchids. In some species of the genus Calopogon, when a bee lands on the flower, the lip (which is hinged) falls onto the bee (triggered by its weight) rubbing the bee against the column for pollination. Porroglossum takes this strategy a bit further and its hinged lip is activated by touch. When the calluses (thick patches on labellum) of the orchids of this genus is touched, the hinged lip forces shut, forcing whatever insect inside it to exit by the stigma, increasing chances of pollination. Other species of orchids have hinged parts as well such as in Bulbophyllum macrorhopalon, which contains hinged appendages in its flower that move in the wind, attracting flies for pollination. The flower is also used in the common way of attracting insects by producing scents and being colourful. However, as orchid pollen
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