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Self-fertilization strategy in an orchid

An orchid that flowers in harsh conditions pollinates itself unassisted by any of the usual agents.


Mating in flowering plants normally relies on animals, wind, gravity or secretion to convey pollen grains from the male (anther) to the female (stigma) organ1,2. Here we describe a new type of self-pollination mechanism in the tree-living orchid Holcoglossum amesianum, in which the bisexual flower turns its anther against gravity through 360° in order to insert pollen into its own stigma cavity — without the aid of any pollinating agent or medium. This mode of self-pollination, which occurs under windless, drought conditions when insects are scarce, adds to the variety of mechanisms that have evolved in angiosperms3,4 to ensure their reproductive success1,5.

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Figure 1: Mechanism of self-pollination in the orchid Holcoglossum amesianum.


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Correspondence to LaiQiang Huang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Liu, KW., Liu, ZJ., Huang, L. et al. Self-fertilization strategy in an orchid. Nature 441, 945–946 (2006).

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