The Roadkill Orchid

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but rotting meat works even better. A strange little South African orchid has figured this out, and attracts pollinating flies with a deathly odor. Satyrium pumilum grows as a terrestrial in wet, sandy soil. During the day, its flowers emit a weak scent of decaying flesh. Scientists have been comparing flies on the orchids with flies on nearby roadkill. They’ve found that the orchids lure a single fly species, and use different scents to steer the flies into position for pollen contact. “We know it’s common for orchids to deceive insects into pollinating them. We also know that some plant species can mimic carrion to attract flies. What we didn’t know was how successful this was,” said Timotheus van der Niet of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The article includes a great photo of yellow orchid pollen stuck to the back of a fly. Obviously, this orchid stinks.

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6 Comments on “The Roadkill Orchid”

  1. julia89 Says:

    Thank you..really informative!!

  2. Carolyn Says:

    Yuck! I’m glad I don’t own that orchid.

  3. skootergrl Says:

    yeah, I thnk I’ll stick with orchids that smell nice. Interesteing story, though.

  4. Tracey Bennett Says: is cool, bookmarked!

  5. NatureNut78 Says:

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  6. Melinda P. Says:

    very helpful…
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