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    michaelpollan.comMichael Pollan9/1/0921 min
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    michaelpollan.com
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    • thorgalle
      Scribe
      5 months ago

      Evergreen! I won’t look at orchids the same way again. I’ve also pitifully eyed some bees here recently, nature has its strange ways.

    • DellwoodBarker
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      5 months ago

      Easily a 10 Read. Fascinating dive into orchid and bee sexual behavior. I still have Botany of Desire on my reading list from years ago…one of my first boyfriend’s favorite life-changing reads. He is a passionate horticulturalist and a beautiful being. Inspiring in a plethora of ways…as ideally lovers past/present/ future should be.

      I predict AOTD.

      Amongst many interesting paragraphs this one really stands out to me regarding Quality Over Quantity which is a Strong Life Value Here overall:

      It seems fair to say that when it comes to their own sex, orchids have opted for quality rather than quantity. For while sexual deception doesn’t fool all of the pollinators all of the time, it does fool some of them some of the time, and for an orchid that is quite enough. That’s because each pollinium contains a stupendous number of pollen grains, and once they’re delivered, every resulting seedpod contains an equally stupendous number of seeds. So while sex among the orchids may be a rare and intricately choreographed affair, what happens after the match is made is all about profligacy and chance. Orchid seeds are so tiny and minimalist they don’t even contain a source of food for the developing embryo. For this, the orchid must (once again) count on the kindness of strangers—in this case, that of an endophytic fungus. If all goes right (and here again, it seldom does), the tendrils of the fungus infiltrate the orchid seed and provide the nutrients that the developing embryo needs to grow. What does the fungus get out of the relationship? Don’t be so sure it gets anything—these are orchids, after all.

      • Karenz
        Scribe
        5 months ago

        This was a fascinating read. I love orchids but never knew about their sexual secrets. When I come across something like this which demonstrates the incredible specificity in nature’s adaptations, it doesn’t necessarily make me think of a divine intelligence. It kind of creeps me out that so much attention in nature goes to orchid reproduction while we have no answers to wars or cancer. I feel like, What on earth is going on here and what are we all doing here??!!

    • Ruchita_Ganurkar
      Scout
      5 months ago

      You would never notice, it is happening around us. Beautifully written by Micheal Pollan, loved the entire world of Orchid :)

      Though some orchids do offer conventional food rewards to the insects and birds that carry their pollen from plant to plant, roughly a third of orchid species long ago figured out, unconsciously of course, that they can save on the expense of nectar and increase the odds of reproducing by evolving a clever deceit, whether that ruse be visual, aromatic, tactile, or all three at once.

      Some orchids lure bees with the promise of food by mimicking the appearance of nectar-producing flowers, while others, as in the case of a Dracula orchid, attract gnats by producing an array of nasty scents, from fungus and rotten meat to cat urine and baby diaper.
      Some orchids promise shelter, deploying floral forms that mimic insect burrows or brood rooms. Others mimic male bees in flight, hoping to incite territorial combat that results in pollination.

      • Jessica
        Scout
        5 months ago

        Thanks for sharing this! Michael Pollan is one of my favorite nonfiction writers and this did not disappoint. I’m looking forward to reading his new book on psychoactive plants.

        • DellwoodBarker
          Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
          5 months ago

          This Is Your Mind On Plants.

          Looks Fantastique!

          • Jessica
            Scout
            5 months ago

            Yes, that's the one!

        • DellwoodBarker
          Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
          5 months ago

          Jessica, that new book sounds amazing! Is there a title? I will request at our library.