WILD NEW JERSEY: Smithsonian: The Evolution of the Orchid and the Orchid Bee
Smithsonian: The Evolution of the Orchid and the Orchid Bee
Photo Credit: S. Ramirez
When scientists delve into studies of the co-evolution of plants and their pollinators, they have something of a chicken/egg problem—which evolved first, the plant or its pollinator? Orchids and orchid bees are a classic example of this relationship. The flowers depend on the bees to pollinate them so they can reproduce and, in return, the bees get fragrance compounds they use during courtship displays (rather like cologne to attract the lady bees). And researchers had thought that they co-evolved, each species changing a bit, back and forth, over time.