Discovery reveals secrets about how ghost orchids reproduce

Deep in remote Florida swamps, a team of researchers and photographers have made a new discovery that upends what we thought we knew about the ghost orchid, one of the world’s most iconic flowers, and how it reproduces.

These rare, charming orchids were long thought to be pollinated by a single insect: the giant sphinx moth. This massive creature sounds like a miniature jet as it zooms through the swamp with a six-inch wingspan, says conservation scientist Peter Houlihan.

But now, photographs by Carlton Ward Jr. and Mac Stone show that a couple of moth species other than the giant sphinx visit and carry the ghost orchid’s pollen—and the giant sphinx itself may play a completely different role than previously thought.

Read more at National Geographic (Douglas Main)


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