From the fact that beetles can pollinate plants, and the new fossil evidence found, it appears beetles were pollinating certain orchids in an amazing 20 million years ago.
Fossilised amber from the Miocene era in Mexico and the Dominican Republic discloses beetles with orchid pollen fixed to the thorax.
Scientists found that some beetles use orchid for sweet liquid, but no fossil trace had been revealed showing that beetles in the far away past pollinating orchids till now.
The first sample is a 0.4 mm long hidden-snout beetle (subfamily Cryptorhynchinae) discovered in a piece of 20-45 million years old amber from the Dominican Republic. Orchid pollinaria can be seen fixed to its thorax from the Cylindrocites browni.
Larvae breed in stems or wood and the adults are known to visit flowers. Cryptorhynchinae were largely diverse in the Dominican amber forest, say experts in the report.
The other example was a toe-winged beetle (family Ptilodactylidae) found in a piece of 22-26 million years old Mexican amber. This toe-winged beetle (1.4 mm in length) had pollinaria from an orchid described as Annulites mexicana fixed to the body.
No present-day hidden-snout beetles have been seen visiting orchid plants, and no present-day toe-winged beetles have been seen with pollinaria.
Another cutting to add the incredible role of orchids in science.
When I sit here, on a constant period of time to prevent beetles eating my outside lilies, I doubt if beetles consumed orchids, too.
Dangling gardens of botanicum
Beautiful Victorian conservatoires contained with scarce orchids and ferns are just one of my favorite things. I suppose it was a method to copy the exciting forest or moderately rain forest in a more local setting.
Because of Pinterest, I’ve become a fan of more modern ways to get pleasure from orchids and other fairly traditional species. I’ve been collecting for years, but for some reason, it may be global warming. My orchids and ferns are all getting sufferings. Perhaps I have not been sensitive to their needs.
Some of the modern gardening ideas appear impossible to accomplish, but every so often, I am tempted into the possibility of inventing an aerial dangling Garden of Botanicum.
A New Zealand website has been inspiring: How to create a kokedama which can ‘get a delicious delicacy to an indoor area’.
Kokedama, in my understanding, is a Japanese word which translates as ‘moss ball’, involving releasing a plant from a pot, quickly put root system into a growing medium ball, finishing that in moss held together with rope and dangling the whole thing from the ceiling.
Luckily, it works particularly well with epiphytes, including orchids. You can use ferns too.
Obtain some dampened sphagnum moss, graze chip or a specialist orchid mix and a mesh bag. Cut open the bag and cover up it with said sphagnum moss, then add enough graze chips or orchid mix so you can cycle the bag around it to create a ball. Tie the ball with a rubber band then wrap the orchid roots around it.
Wrap fishing line around the ball to fasten the roots firmly, put another layer of orchid mix and wrap that in more moss.
Using decorative rope around the outside, dangle the kokedama in a suitable place.
Bring it down and immerse it in a bowl of water for a quarter of an hour, if it begins to dry out, then drain and replace.
The tough piece is to convince partner to fasten hook in ceiling, because it is not safe to be let loose with a drill and a ladder at the same time. Could take a moment.
PS When doing research about The Lost Orchid, I discovered a recipe for restoring tired orchids. It needed Epsom salts and gin. I have not tried this yet, but it sounds more appropriate to tired authors.
It’s all very well to promise natural ingredients, but big corporations have caused a vanilla crisis.
Global production of natural vanilla is extremely small and has been dropping in recent years. Did you know that less than 1% of vanilla flavor comes from real vanilla orchids?
With demand increasing, there is a severe lack of this scented and special orchid. Vanilla is a labor-intensive harvest, needing 600 hand-pollinated flowers to yield a single kilo of cured beans. Beans are picked while still green and sold to fermentation plants where labors sort, blanch, steam, and dry the beans in the sunshine. Then, they are sorted again, dried in the shadow, and fermented while labors continually assess their scent and check each bean for quality.
Farmers can acquire funding from organic or fair trade organizations, but it is challenging to grow more orchids because their farms are frequently pretty small. In spite of, it takes four years for those vines to get to full growth.
Scientists are trying to make more and better substitutes, such as vanillin. For example, one choice would be to engineer yeast to make vanillin from substances such as treacle, which comprises ferulic acid.
There’s an attractive article about the problem, together with the unusual history of the vanilla plantation – and the taste wheel, used by the food community to study the specific attributes of an ingredient, food, or beverage. One such vanilla wheel assesses 29 distinct flavor characteristics clustered into ten main categories: smoky, spicy, botanical, sulphury, sweet, creamy, medicinal, cooked, fatty, and floral.
And exactly like wine, natural vanilla planted in different places, for instance Madagascar, Mexico, or Tahiti, has different flavor and potency summaries. Bake Off fans might be interested to see that Madagascar vanilla, usually called Bourbon vanilla, is highly wanted for its rummy flavor and sweet fragrance. I learn something new each day.
Strange plants from the lost world
The Sun Pitchers (Heliamphora) are weird. Even among the weird–the animal eating plants– the Sun Pitchers stick out. No gaudy colors, teeth, arms or slime spot them as killers. A Sun Pitcher is a smooth, slightly curved and refined chimney. The deadly digestive soup at the bottom comprise bacteria, not enzymes.
The chimney has four Death Areas: an area of downward indicating hairs at the base; a band that is refined and greasy; another area of long hairs; and an enticing bait at the top. The bait, an alien-looking spoon contained nectar that makes the Sun Pitcher look like it fell from another world.
Sun Pitchers develop only on the isolated peaks of the tepui or sandstone hills of southern Venezuela, Guyana and northern Brazil –the imaginary Lost World of film and novels. The peaks are damaged by continuous wind and heavy precipitation, forming weird geological development. Deep ridges and often widy canyons are hidden by clouds and fog. A dangerous climb or a rented helicopter is needed in order to get to the top. It’s no wonder that the Sun Pitchers were not depicted till 1840.
The tepui are “islands” of plants that have evolved in isolation from the plants of the savannah below. Their plants is unique and scarce in farming.
You can see the weird and delightful Sun Pitchers in our very hot and wet High Altitude House.