An orchid growing in harsh conditions defies gravity to twist its male sexual organs 360 degrees to fertilize its female organ, Chinese scientists have discovered.
The pink-flowered orchid, Holcoglossum amesianum, grows on tree trunks at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,000 metres in China's Yunnan province.
In Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, LaiQiang Huang of the centre for biotechnology and biomedicine at Tsinghua University in Shenzhen, China, and colleagues report what they say is a new type of self-pollination mechanism.
"Without pollinators for outcrossing, the necessity of ensuring reproductive success must outweigh the potential adverse effects of inbreeding," the study's authors concluded.
Science can be fun, sometimes.