Monday, 11 July 2011

Bee Orchids

Some interesting facts...

  • Bee orchids produce a scent which is similar to the pheromones produced by certain female bees to attract a mate. Male bees attracted by this scent then attempt to mate with the bee orchid flower and, in moving from flower to flower, transfer pollen and fertilise the bee orchids. 
  • Bee orchids only flower once.
  • The single flower spike is the culmination of up to eight years growth 
  • The top flower is the last to open.

  • Bee orchids take 5-8 years to develop from seed to flower. This development depends on an association between the orchid and fungi in the soil.
  • Seed capsules develop as the flowers die off. Each capsule contains 6,000 - 10,000 tiny seeds.

  • Below ground only those seeds which are successful in gaining nutrients from fungal hyphae will begin their 5-8 years of development before flowering.
We were so lucky to have had 4 or 5 of these lovely orchids in our garden. Will we get any next year??


Diane said...

What an interesting post, I have never heard of these orchids and they do look so like bees. I hope you get masses next year :-) Diane

Susan said...

Unless you've been spraying weed killer around or tilled the area the orchids are in they will return, as each orchid will have produced a new rhizome next to the old one (or tuber - I forget which) and you've probably got a couple dormant this year ready to spring up next year. Bee orchids do entice bees to pollinate them, but in fact, they do not require a pollinator, and as a result are mostly self-pollinated. Once they reach maturity they will throw off the mycchorizal fungi.

Craig said...

Excellent photos, thanks!