Musings on ecology, evolution, and time spent in the Amazon.
Sawfly orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera)
A common Phalaenopsis orchid hybrid
Orchids are one of the largest and most diverse families of flowering plants in the world, as well as being one of the most popular in horticulture. Most people in Europe will be familiar with the Phalaenopsis orchid we see in supermarkets, a flashy hybrid that flowers a lot and is relatively easy to keep. A trickier beauty you won't see on a supermarket shelf, is a bee orchid.
Orchids in the Ophrys genus are commonly referred to collectively as bee orchids. They are found mostly in the Mediterranean, Caucasus, Middle East, and North Africa, but some also occur in the UK and Ireland. Personally, I've only ever seen them in the wild in Mallorca but they are one of my favourite types of orchid.
Bee orchids produce clusters of beautiful delicate flowers – in fact, if any flowers can be considered adorable, these can, some even seem furry! However, don't let their innocent façade fool you. These orchids produce pheromones similar to those of the females of specific bee and wasp species. This attracts the male insects and when they find the source of the chemicals, well, to a male lovesick bee a furry flower that smells right is close enough to a female! So as the poor deluded bee attempts to copulate with the conniving flower, rather than spreading his own genes, what he is doing is picking up pollen from the orchid, which he will unwittingly deposit on the next flower he tries to get off with.
Ah evolution and it's sadistic tricks!
Sawfly orchid flowers (Ophrys tenthredinifera)
Mirror orchid (Ophrys speculum), possibly the cutest bee orchid!
Sawfly orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera)
Bumblebee orchids (Ophrys bombyliflora)
Check this out for a short, simple and sweet video about evil orchids.
· 00:20 GMT-5, 2nd July 2012 - Arrived in Ecuador's capital, Quito, when the airport was still smack bang in the middle of the city. · 18:55 GMT-5, 22nd July 2013 - Watched the sparkling night lights that sprawl over Quito's mountainous façade shrink beneath the plane that took me from the equator. In an attempt to summarise the uncompressable and spare you my rambling, I've selected five photos from each of the months I spent in Ecuador on industrial placement. They're not necessarily the best photos nor personal favourites, but they all mean or represent something.
Anyone who knows me or has seen me walking in recent years will be aware that I have longterm problems with one of my hips. In February just gone, I went home to Spain and was met at Barcelona airport by my brother. On the drive to my parents' house, Calloway asked exactly what was wrong with my hip, which had been freshly replaced 2 months prior. I started with "Well, you know what they did to my hip when I was a baby, right?" "Not exactly, no..." he replied. A lot of people ask about my hip, so I decided to use the 6-month-versary of my shiny new titanium hip as an excuse for a completely self-indulgent post about what was wrong with my hip to begin with and why I needed a replacement two weeks into my 25th year (and an excuse to show off my scar and some x-rays, look away now if it embarrasses you to see x-rays of my pelvis).
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