3 Fragrant Orchids | Brassavola nodosa-Little Stars-Cattleya alliance

Brassavola nodosa

3 Fragrant Orchids

We know that not all orchids are fragrant, some have sweet fragrant and some have foul odors

Flowers that are pollinated by insects are often brightly colored and fragrant. They are advertising the fact that they offer nectar or other substances for different creatures to feed on. Pollinators devour the sticky pollen as they feed and transfer it to other flowers.

Every orchid species has its own unique strategy to draw in pollinators. Some have wonderful fragrances yet produce no nectar and trick insects into thinking there is a free meal. Other orchids produce odors that mimic the pheromones of bees and wasps (some even look like female insects) so that males try to mate with the orchids. Some bees even collect the orchid's fragrance and store it on their hind legs to use, perhaps, to draw in their own mates.

Brassavola Little Stars

Orchids are pollinated by bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, gnats and beetles. Flies, gnats and beetles are attracted to dull-green and reddish-brown orchids with foul odors. Bulbophyllum beccarii attracts flies by smelling like a decaying animal. Butterflies and hummingbirds tend to gravitate to bright yellow and red flowers that are full of sweet nectar. Bees love nectar and cheerful flowers that range from purple and blues to bright yellows.

Most orchids smell best within the morning hours when the sunshine is bright. The fragrance fades in the afternoon when the temperature increases. This corresponds with the pollination practices of insects that are more active in early hours. Other orchids are fragrant in the evening. The well known queen-of-the-night orchid, Brassavola nodosa, Brassavola Little Stars exuding its heavenly fragrance at dusk when its pollinators, nocturnal moths, come out.

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Fragrances are volatile. They often develop and become more complex the longer you smell them. A fragrance may catch your attention with a robust citrus smell that sweetens and becomes floral after a couple of minutes. At first Dendrobium anosmum smells like raspberry, shifts to strawberry, then rhubarb, and eventually hyacinth.

Some fragrances are mild, while others are intoxicating. There are many factors that affect fragrance. Orchids tend to be more fragrant on sunny rather than shady days, when the volatile oils warm up and diffuse. Fragrances tend to linger longer in areas of high humidity. Locations where the air is still tend to trap fragrances, while smells will dissipate in breezy sites.

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