An Animal or a Flower ?

Bee orchids

Close-up of a bee orchid flower

Bee orchids are fascinating and beautiful plants that certainly live up to their name: each flower looks like it has a female bee or wasp resting on it. These modified petals also smell like female bees, emitting enticing chemical signals. These remarkable adaptations are in fact an effective deception to lure a real bee to come and mate.

In most bee orchid species the excited male insect becomes covered in pollen, in turn pollinating the next orchid he visits; a few species, however, are still self-pollinating. These Mediterranean masters of mimicrygrow either singly or in small groups in meadows, woodland edges or even by the side of the road.

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