Mount Kinabalu (05:58)
This episode of "Plants Behaving Badly" will explore how orchids use deception and trickery to lure in pollinators. There are over 25,000 different types of orchids in the world, 900 of which exist in the rainforest surrounding the mountain in Borneo. On a blue orchid, ants guard tiny bugs who gather the plant's nectar.
Charles Darwin studied the different types of orchids on Orchis Bank for "On the Origin of Species." The orchid code allows the plant to create different types of petals to encourage fertilization. The plant's ability to cross-pollinate supports Darwin's theory of "Natural Selection."
Appalachian Mountains (03:15)
The lip swells into a hollow structure resembling a shoe in lady slippers. As a bee traverses the plant's narrow exit, pollen is glued onto its back. Fertilization by an unrelated partner helps strengthen a species.
Orchid's pollen is packaged into parcels with a sticky glue at its base to help attach it. Grasses pollinate without the use of insects. Darwin created an experiment on green-winged orchids to prove fertilization required insects.
Attracting Insects (03:04)
The twayblade glues pollen atop a wasps head when it feeds on its nectar. When the insect travels to another orchid it is cross-pollinated. Thigh beetles are strong enough to scrape off the pollenaria.
Multiple Sources of Nectar (02:22)
The fragrant orchid only produces nectar toward the tip of its spur. A painted lady butterfly possesses a long tongue to reach it; pollen adheres to its side. Orchids adapt to exploit insects.
The comet orchid possesses a spur over a foot long. Darwin theorized that there must be a moth with a long enough tongue to reach the pollen. An entomologist records a hawk moth.
Orchids that Produce No Nectar (03:00)
This species flocks toward orchids in large numbers to obtain oil which attracts female bees. Green Wing produces no nectar.
Deception and Trickery (04:40)
The Narrow-leaved Helleborine uses "fake" pollen to tempt insects. Bee orchids release a chemical mixture that resembles a female bee and attracts males.
Why Give Up Making Nectar? (04:03)
When artificial nectar is added to some of the green-winged Orchid's flowers, bees fertilize the same plant instead of cross-pollinate. Darwin discovered that after a bee picks up the pollenaria, the early purple orchid pollen moves into a position better suited for fertilization.
Producing Thousands of Seeds (03:29)
Orchid seeds blow on the wind and do not contain food supplies. Learn about the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi. The bird's nest orchid relies entirely on the fungus as a food source.
Threatened with Extinction (04:06)
The Sainsbury Orchid Conservation Project attempts to cultivate the plant and then release it back into the wild. Scientists sterilize the lady slipper's seeds in weak bleach and then placed on a nutrient jelly.
Commercial Orchid Nursery (02:00)
Learn how practitioners cultivate orchids in greenhouses the size of two soccer fields.
A ghost orchid grows on Fakahatchee Strand. Poachers attempt to steal this endangered species. Students at the Writhlington School share their knowledge about different species of orchids.
Credits: Sex & Lies (Part 2) (00:36)
Credits: Sex & Lies (Part 2)
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