Did you know that some orchids get their pollinators drunk?

Epipactis lusitanicaSome helleborines (Epipactis spp.) produce a narcotic nectar that makes pollinating wasps sluggish. This may prolong the time they spend on the flowers, bringing about greater levels of pollination.

5 thoughts on “Did you know that some orchids get their pollinators drunk?

      • Fabulous stuff, thanks for setting me off on a new line of enquiry Chris – I’ve been looking into it and it seems the main research was into E.helleborine, which produces a really potent cocktail of narcotic compounds, particularly the semi-synthetic morphinan oxycodone.

        There’s reference too to E.purpurata having narcotic qualities – but given the unassuming visual nature of Epipactis as a whole I bet most of them are up to this as an aid to pollination. Orchids – marvellous beasties, aren’t they!

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