Dogs Are an Orchid’s Best Friend

In the vast orchid family full of weird plants, Rhizanthellas stand out as among the weirdest. These Australian natives live their whole lives underground, and feed off fungi rather than photosynthesize. Their flowers occasionally break the surface, but usually out of sight in the dirt or leaf litter, so they’re really hard to find. But Missy the detection dog has a nose for these bizarre plants. In Barrington Tops National Park north of Sydney, Missy can sniff out the rare orchids in a few minutes, compared to humans who take 10 days to find them. Conservation groups hope that trained dogs will help them better understand and protect these fascinating orchids.

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