MNN Galleries

Orchids 101: The biology behind these elegant flowers

By: Anna Norris on Jan. 21, 2014, 9:19 a.m.
Bulbophyllum grandiflorum

Photo: Anna Norris

5 of 12

Determined to be pollinated

Many orchids have distinct smells — from the notoriously bad-smelling Bulbophyllum species, including the peppery Bulbophyllum grandiflorum shown here, to sweet-smelling vanilla orchids. (That's right! Vanilla comes from an orchid plant.) Smells of rotting flesh attract flies, while pleasant scents clue in pollinators to sources of nectar.