Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pretty picture: Pleurothallis truncata

Occasionally, with the orchids, one is moved to ask what is the point. I mean, I guess the color's nice, if you can see it.

Google tells me that the species lives high in the mountains of Columbia and Ecuador, and prefers cooler temperatures and lots of moisture. Presumably the pollinators at those altitudes are so hard up for flowers that they have no standards, hence the tiny orange things here.

The above is, in any case, about as pretty as the pictures get. In the googling, I found a few photos that were maybe more dramatic, or more professional-looking, but the flowers themselves pretty much always look like this.


Liza said...

Wow. I didn't think flowers were capable of depressing me, but those do. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Haha, just kidding. I do agree though - boring! Wait, did I just call flowers boring? (Watches nervously for lightning strikes or heavenly smackdowns.)

Dan said...

Pleurothallis spp. may not produce the most striking flowers, but at least to some biologists they aren't boring. (Though, is anything ever boring to biologists?) Orchids frequently have a specialized floral structure that prevents self-pollination, but these guys are an interesting exception to that rule.

Other orchids cater their flower structures to the exact dimensions of a specific set of pollinators. They can count on these pollinators to interact with the flower about the same way every time, so the shape of the flower can guarantee that it won't have sex with itself. However, many Pleurothallis spp. rely on flies for pollination. Flies are the drunken masters of pollination. They are notorious for just wandering all over the flower more or less randomly, getting its own pollen everywhere. As a result, fly-pollinated orchids have been under intense selective pressure to become self-incompatible, meaning that their female parts can recognize pollen that came from the same flower, and that pollen won't germinate. This is important, because self-incompatibility has consequences for conservation efforts.

There's always more than meets the eye when it comes to orchids!

mr_subjunctive said...


Thank you so much for that.

Noel Almirante said...

Nice posts! Something reminds me about my childhood when I was in the farm.

But now I'm here living in an apartment and no farm to see those beautiful gardens and flowers my mom is keeping in her old garden... I just browse online and thinking of something that reminds me about our farm.

Good thing being a writer of givingplants.com I can somehow feel the ambiance of my home.

Thanks. I will keep following your posts.

Dan said...

Haha - sorry for the long post.

(Too much coffee) + (access to scientific journals) + (boredom) = uninvited lectures on random blog comment boards.

mr_subjunctive said...


No, seriously. That was great. I like knowing that kind of thing.