NANFA-- OFF TOPIC - Speaking of symbiotic relationships RE; Moth

Leo Arieux (
Fri, 30 Aug 2002 10:26:45 -0500 (CDT)

There is a group of monopodial orchids largely restricted to Africa and
the Islands of the Indian Ocean.The specific genus and species is
Angraecum sesquipedale. It is known as the Star of Bethlehem Orchid
which has star shaped ivory/white flowers that bloom around Christmas.
Two to four waxy flowers up to 7 " across seem to glow against a
background of dark green strap like leaves. There is a barely noticeable
nectar tube which is a whitish green spur, almost 12" long.

Now to the point.....over 100 years ago, Charles Darwin was studying the
fertilization of orchids by insects. He predicted that in Madagascar,
there must be a moth with a 10 to 12" probiscus capable of reaching to
the bottom of the spur/tube and fertilizing this flower. Many years
later such a moth----- the night flying Xanthopan morgani praedicta
was discovered.

There is another orchid, which I am familiar with that _only_ has
fragrance at night and is visited by moths, Brassavola nodosa, the Lady
of the Night Orchid which has slender green- gray "rat tail" type leaves
with small white delightfully
fragrant flowers. I have seen moths pollinating the flowers at night on
my patio, a very interesting phenomena.

On a side note there is another species of terrestrial orchids (Ophrys)
with approximately 30 species. Ophrys insectifera, has a lip that
resembles the female Argogorytes mystaceus wasp. A male wasp in
attempting copulation fertilizes the flower. The inter relationship
between animals and flowers never fail to amaze me. It is a shame that
man doesn't respect the natural world and it's beauty more.


Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler'
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