Thursday, October 29, 2009
Catasetum pileatum 'Oro Verde' HCC/AOS. This plant is native to the hot, humid, lowland forests of Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador where it may grow exposed to full sun up on palms. There are also red, white and spotted forms.
The really fun thing about Catasetums is their amazing habit of launching their pollen. I have to admit, it is still a little unnerving to have it fling pollen at your finger. It's like waiting for a albeit small rat trap to snap on your finger.
If you look at the column of the flower (central white area that protrudes from the flower), you'll see a little trigger underneath it. A light touch to the trigger causes the pollen and the viscidium (little sticky pads that hold the pollen to the insect pollinator) to launch at decent velocity and stick to the unsuspecting bee or, in my case, my finger. The bee would then take it to the next flower for pollination.
An older man, Mr. Sato, showed me this when I was a kid (aka around 10 y.o.). I still remember him telling the ladies to sniff the fragrance and WHANG, EEK -- Pollen on the nose. It was pretty amazing entertainment for a little kid.
The adhesive on the viscidium is pretty strong, however; as it was intended to stick to a flying bee until it pollinated another flower. I was told that some poor, unsuspecting guy got nailed in the eye and needed to visit a doctor to get it off. Not a pleasant thought. So, when sniffing a Catasetum...sniff with care and a little bit of distance (grin).