Fertilization Of Paphiopedilum Orchid Plant

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Blooming, Care and Culture, Classification, Propagation

The fertilization of paphiopedilums is slightly different from the other various methods by which the continuance of the rase is ensured.

In the case of Paphiopedilum callosum and insect attracted by the alluring smell (there is no nectary in P. callosum but the base of the labellum must be tasty to a bee) enters the labellum, which is slipper-shaped, at its widest aperture, which is just in front of the disc-like organ (the staminode), and commences to gnaw at the hairs at the bottom of the column. When he has absorbed all that he wants, or arrives at less tasty hairs, he looks for a way to escape, which is by one of two routes, one on each side of the staminode, and in passing through one of these narrow gaps, he removes the pollen on that side. It must be remembered that there are two anthers in the genus Paphiopedilum one on each side of the staminode.

The stigmatic surface is in the form of a disc, and is behind the staminode at an angle to it. The surface is not viscid but polished and with a depression like three lines radiating from the center at an angle of 120 degrees. When the bee visits another flower he deposits the pollen, which is sticky and easily adheres to the center of the depression. It must be noted that in many cases the paphiopedilums, with their trap-like pouch or labellum propagate themselves vegetatively, rather than by the agency of insects, for a bee a little larger than the apertures can enter but finds it impossible to escape and will die of starvation.

The plants, therefore, propagate themselves by the new growths they make and by the spreading of their roots into the surrounding ground. Man, however, is better able to effect the cross-fertilization of this genus by removing th pollen by means of a pointed instrument, such as a tooth-pick, and placing it on the stigmatic surface of another and different flower.

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