People are so interested in Darwin's Orchids


Darwin's orchid

Description Darwin’s Orchid

Orchidaceae is the largest family of flowering plants. There are around 220 species in the genus Angraecum, with new species being discovered recently in Madagascan forests. The genus name, Angraecum, is derived from the Malayan word anggrek, which is used to describe several species of epiphytic orchids. The specific epithet sesquipedale comes from the Latin sesquipedalis, meaning 'one and a half feet', in reference to the long flower spur.

The species was discovered by the aristocrat and keen botanist Louis Marie Aubert du Petit Thouars (1758-1831) in eastern Madagascar, where he had been exiled during the French Revolution. Du Petit-Thouars is remembered as the author of the book Histoire des végétaux recueillis dans les îles de France, de Bourbon et de Madagascar (usually abbreviated in botanic literature as Hist. vég. îles France) He returned to France in 1802 with a large collection of plants, most of which he donated to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

Angraecum sesquipedale is not the only species in the genus with a unique pollinator. Recently, a group of scientists, including one from Kew, discovered the first known instance of a cricket as a pollinator of a related species - Angraecum cadetti from Mauritius and Réunion.

Du Petit-Thouars

Too Many Name of The Darwin’s Orchid
Angraecum sesquipedale also called as Darwin's orchid, Christmas orchid, Star of Bethlehem orchid, King of the Angraecums, The One and a Half Foot Long Angraecum, Comet Orchid, Aeranthes sesquipedalis, Angorchis sesquipedale, Angraecum bosseri, Angraecum sesquipedale var. angustifolium, Macroplectrum sesquipedale, Mystacidium sesquipedale, is a species of the genus Angraecum. This species was described by Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars in 1822.

The request for inclusion of two orchids will come in the big orchid exhibitions, the two orchids are called Vanilla Orchid and Darwin Orchid.
People are so interested in Darwin orchids because of the connection between Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

In 1862 a sample of flowers was sent to Darwin. Looking at its long, narrow nectar tube, he predicted that there would be an insect with a very long proboscis (tongue-like part) that would dig deep into an empty space at the bottom to drink the "nectar", causing the insect to jump with the sticky pollen of the flower. Its flowers will move from one flower to another.

In Madagascar, however, no insects were found where orchids came from. And many scientists believed that Darwin was wildly wrong, so his predictions were ridiculed.
However, Darwin was convinced that star orchids developed their long nectar tube adapted to help ensure pollination because orchid flowers had their own pollen in the same filling and could not spread like other flowers. Orchids need their own specific insect pollinators to survive.

Almost four decades after Darwin's prediction, the physical feature that Darwin predicted was an insect. Known as the Hawk Moth, its scientific name is probably Xanthopan morganii praedicta, which is named ‘predicted moth’ in honor of Darwin.

Darwin was a serious student of orchids, which he investigated and tested as he developed the theory of evolution. He also wrote a book on his research on orchids, entitled On Defaults Contribution, by which British and foreign orchids were fertilized by insects. They became a perfect example of the co-evolution of orchids, where two animals and insects affect each other's growth and adaptability.

Angraecum sesquipedale is native to Madagascar. This orchid is found in the hot lowlands around almost the entire east coast of the island of Madagascar, 
Threats and conservation Darwin’s Orchid
All orchids are listed on Appendix I or II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which makes it an offence to trade this species without a permit.

Uses Darwin’s Orchid
Christmas star orchid is cultivated as an ornamental.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: One

This species at Kew
The Christmas star orchid can be seen in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
Alcohol-preserved specimens of Angraecum sesquipedale are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

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