Occupy the Night!

Occupy the Night! The first and only night blooming orchid has been discovered on a volcanic island off Papua, New Guinea. Of >25,000 species of orchids, only a handful bloom in the evening, and until now, none were known to flower exclusively at night. Botanists are very excited.

When Dutch botanist Ed de Vogel cultivated Bulbophyllum nocturnum , he was disappointed at first to never catch the blooms. But he took a plant home with him one evening. A bud began to open 2 hours before midnight, revealing an exotic purple orchid that withered by morning.

Botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (UK) and the Center for Biodiversity Naturalis in the Netherlands who made this discovery, hailed this as “another reminder that surprising discoveries can still be made”.

Orchids are pollinated by insects that are active during the day so it makes sense that the flowers bloom by day. This rare purple orchid may be pollinated by midge flies that forage at night. Why is it that only this orchid chose a nocturnal habit?

Perhaps, nature simply found an unoccupied niche and occupied it.

Read more: http://www.zmescience.com/science/biology/nighttime-orchid-29112011/#ixzz1f7ukGE6j

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6 Responses to Occupy the Night!

  1. that would indicate that there is a close feedback loop between the insect and the flower right? could it have been that together they sort of moved off into the night but had started off during the the day(ish)?

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    Suhail Manzoor , that’s a great point! Darwin even wrote a book on co-evolution of pollinators and flowers called Fertilization of Orchids. Both the pollinator and the flower exert selective pressure on the other. Hummingbirds are the standard example of this…the nectar, color, shape and blooming time of the flower species perfectly matches the pollinating hummingbird species.

    This may explain why more night blooming orchids are not prevalent.

  3. I have been reading Lovelock since that popular post of yours this weekend and he sort of gave me the idea for it. Seems to me what Lovelock is in essence proposing is that Gaia is one massive co-evolving organism. I have heard of Fertilization of Orchids, I think it was in this book : ‘The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions’ by David Quammen. Do read it if you get a chance. Its the only science book that made me weep 🙂

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Suhail Manzoor , based on your past recommendations, this one is now in my Amazon shopping cart 🙂

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