The species, named Xanthopan morganii praedicta (or “predicted moth”), was discovered in 1903, but not witnessed feeding on the orchid until 1992. These plants don’t like to have the roots disturbed so be careful and try not to crack or damage any of the good roots. [4] Each of the succulent roots can extend along the trunk of the tree for several meters. “The orchids may indeed have arrived late on that scene.”. I encourage everyone to come see it.". [14] The number of flower spikes present during flowering is dependent on the number of new leaf-pairs formed during the preceding spring and summer, since each newly formed leaf-pair produce one spike and rarely two. You can see moth actually unfurling its proboscis and drinking the nectar in this youtube video. [8][9] A. sesquipedale has also previously gone by the synonyms Aeranthes sesquipedalis Lindl. After being sent several flowers of A. sesquipedale by James Bateman,[31] Darwin noted the defining characteristic of the species, its extremely long spur. [23], An alternative path by which A. sesquipedale could have evolved that differed with Darwin and Wallace's explanation was proposed by Lutz Thilo Wasserthal in 1997. By this means alone I succeeded in each case in withdrawing the pollinia; and it cannot, I think, be doubted that a large moth must thus act; namely, by driving its proboscis up to the very base, through the cleft of the rostellum, so as to reach the extremity of the nectary; and then withdrawing its proboscis with the pollinia attached to it. Angraecum sesquipedale / ˌ s ɛ s k w ɪ p ɪ ˈ d eɪ l iː /, also known as Darwin's orchid, Christmas orchid, Star of Bethlehem orchid, and king of the angraecums, is an epiphytic orchid in the genus Angraecum endemic to Madagascar.The orchid was first discovered by the French botanist Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars in 1798, but was not described until 1822. "When I learned the story behind it, I got a little obsessed.". [47], Both Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace had suggested that the evolutionary basis for how the odd relationship between the sphinx moth and A. sesquipedale evolved over time could be understood by considering one orchid with a long spur and another with a short spur. It was the “astounding” Angraecum sesquipedale Thouars, a large orchid with a nectary one foot long! If grown in warm house conditions the plant will flower around Christmas day, while if grown in intermediate house conditions it will flower around mid-January or later. In other words, the flowers evolve long spurs to fit the pollinators and not the reverse. All of this information makes me so grateful for scientists. When I slowly withdrew the cylinder the rostellum rose from its elasticity, and the margins of the cleft upturned and clasped the cylinder. [61][62][63] The flowers somewhat resemble those of A. leonis. Extraordinary in every way. The spur of the flower is 27–43 cm (10.6–16.9 in) from its tip to the tip of the flower's lip. He arrived at this conclusion after attempting in vain to remove the pollinia of the flower using needles and bristles. [22] The nectar has been found to contain the sugars fructose, sucrose, glucose, and raffinose. It is, however, surprising that any insect should be able to reach the nectar: our English sphinxes have probosces as long as their bodies: but in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches! Darwin's orchid is located in the Green Greenhouse 114 on campus, attached to Kenneth Post Lab on Tower Road. On the other hand, as the nectar, at least in the lower part of the nectary, is stored safe from depredation by other insects, the extinction of the Angræcum would probably be a serious loss to these moths. [14][25] At the end of the spur is a small amount of nectar usually about 40–300 µl in volume.

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