Fake Orchid Pollen Isn’t All That Bad

Some orchids are tricksters. They fool pollinators into thinking they offer rewards like food, or even a mate. But not all their tricks are so devious. Cypripedium wardii, a Lady Slipper native to China and Tibet, tempts bees and hoverflies with fake pollen. This pseudopollen entices insects into visiting the blooms, where they also pick up the flowers’ real pollen. However, scientists have discovered that the pseudopollen is nutritious, and the insects eat it. Since they’re receiving benefits for their work, it’s not a ruse. It’s another one of the cunning pollination strategies in the orchid family.

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