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Orclitea: a short introduction to the sexuality of orchids


      Did you notice it? The orchid looks like a sex. Many artists have made the parallel between this flower and the vulva. Personally, I have always found that the pistil of florist's orchids resembles the human clitoris.

      Obviously, the comparison is a little pushed. It is not a clitoris, nor a "feminine" flower. To make it easier to reproduce, orchids are hermaphrodites. They have the two attributes: male and female. But drawing this parallel is not entirely wrong either.

      Do you know that the orchid is one of the most adaptive flowers and that depending on the species, they multiply tricks to perpetuate themselves? Although they have both sexual attributes, most of them need help from foragers (bees, butterflies, etc.) to be fertilized and proliferate. One strategy to attract them is to mimic the shape of the genitals of the female insects that forage there. The rascals!

Other species can also mimic the scent of female sex phenromone to attract males, or the scent of their favorite food. Whenthe insect gathers pollen from the flower and realizes that it has been tricked, it goes to the orchid next door with pollen on its proboscis and pollinates it. Smart isn't it?

       It is therefore not surprising to have the impression that these flowers strangely resemble a sex! However, neither anatomy nor sexuality is equivalent to that of Homo sapiens. We are not plants. From this point of view, mammals are closest to us. Comparisons are easier, even if, as we saw with La Vache qui clit , we must also take a grain of salt because there are notorious differences.

This illustration was inspired by a collaboration with biodiversity illustrator Lily on the River .

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