Day 316 - Much of the reason orchids are so widespread is thanks in part to humans' affinity for and desire to grow them. It is thought that the symmetry of the flower could have a lot to do with why people are so fond of orchids. An orchid has bilateral symmetry — like a human face — so if a line is drawn vertically down the middle of the flower, the two halves are mirror images of each other.
Day 317 - Orchids are masters of deception. Orchids deceive insects into pollinating them. The reproductive parts of many orchid flowers are shaped and colored to look like the kind of insect they hope to attract. Once the insect is interested, the orchid's pollen sticks to the bug until it flies off to find another orchid that it mistakes for a mate.
Day 318 - Pollen from an ancient orchid was found on the back of a bee encased in amber, as detailed in a 2007 study in the journal Nature. The fossil was dated to around 10 million or 15 million years ago, but it is suspected that the orchid family is far older. Some research even dates some species of orchid to around 120 million years ago, before the continents split into their current form. Two species of orchids whose natural habitats are thousands of miles apart are actually closely related. Scientists think that the plants probably had a common ancestor before they were separated by continental drift.
Day 319 - Perhaps one of the most popular species of orchids, the "flat leafed" vanilla plant is also one of the most widespread. Horticulturalists all over Latin America cultivate the plant for its flavorful charms.
Day 320 - Researchers at the John Innes Center and the University of East Anglia, both located in Norwich in the United Kingdom, studied how petals and leaves grow in a type of small flowering plant called Arabidopsis. They discovered that concealed maps within the flower buds are made up of patterns of arrows that act as instructions for how each cell in the bud should grow. As such, the maps essentially influence a flower bud's cell polarity, or the functions of the cells. The study's findings not only shed light on why geranium petals are unlike rose petals, they also explain why an individual flower's petals and leaves are different shapes.