A Fungus Among Us

Scientists studying the large and diverse orchid family continue to find bizarre pollination tricks. An endangered orchid species from southern China is the first orchid known to use both flowers and leaves as part of its deception. This rare lady slipper looks and smells like it has a fungal infection. Cypripedium fargesii lives as high as 10,500 ft. (3200m) in the mountains of Sichuan and Hubei. Along with moldy smelling flowers, its leaves have reddish-brown splotches that make it look sick. To complete the illusion, the splotches even have microscopic hairs which resemble fungal spores. It’s a convincing deception for fungus-eating, flat-footed flies. They think they’ve found a feast, but instead leave with orchid pollen on their backs. Scientists from St. Louis University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences hope to learn how the orchid can mimic the fungus so well without becoming infected itself.

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5 Comments on “A Fungus Among Us”

  1. dorx Says:

    ewww gross! why would a moldy smelling orchid have any appeal

  2. Irene C Says:

    Great article . Will definitely copy it to my website.

  3. nancy Says:

    where do u get this stuff? Oh right, the news. It is interesting, and the flower is pretty but I’m glad I don’t hav eto smell it. The pictures of the tiny hairs that look like fungus spores are cool.

  4. Mara Dempsey Says:

    Very interesting.

  5. Gerrie Says:

    Extemrely helpful article, please write more.