Monday, February 4, 2008

An orchid aphrodisiac....flies only

I was intrique by the fragrance of Bulbophyllum patens. Sometimes, it smells like cherry, sometimes it has a spicy smell. I am not exactly sure if the smell changes with the age of the flower. In a genus known for smelly bloom, this virtue is rare.

The fragrant flower attracts the male melon fly (Bactrocera sp)to pollinate it - which is not unusual. The interesting part is, according to literature, the fly actually consumes and stores this spicy chemical, zingerone [4-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-2-butanone], and use it as a sex hormone to attract the female.

The spicy smell comes from zingerone and most likely the fruity smell is that of rasberry ketone, which is very similar in structure and is more potent for the fly. I wonder if the change in smell of the bloom would trigger any changes in the fly's pollination inclination ....

Ref: J. of Chemical Ecology, V 26, 2, p533 , February 2000


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this bulbo... its interesting to know that this bulbo has cherry smell... any idea where to get this?


Hort Log said...

I may have a cutting. Else, Woon Leng certainly will.Cheers

Anonymous said...

just stopping by to say hello

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