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The Secret Life of Orchids – Part II: Pollinators

By Maria Anderson

Orchids are beautiful, but their beauty can be deceiving. Most orchids don’t have any nectar, yet they cheat their pollinators into thinking that they do by attracting them with colorful, open flowers. By the time the pollinator realizes it’s been cheated, it flies away carrying the orchid’s pollen.

Melissa McCormick, a plant ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., explains the relationship between orchids and their pollinators in this video.

Also unlike other flowers, which evenly exchange nutrients with their fungi, orchids actually digest the fungi in their roots, cheating them out of this exchange.

For 50 years, scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have been leading research to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century. Find out more.


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