Darwin’s Orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale)

The orchid was first discovered by the French botanist Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars in 1798, but was not described until 1822. The nectary of Darwin’s Orchid flowers is in a thin green spur about 12 inches (300 mm) long. This epiphyte is endemic to Madagascar. Charles Darwin surmised that the flower was pollinated by a then undiscovered hawk moth with a proboscis whose length was then unprecedented. His prediction had gone unverified until 21 years after his death when the moth (Darwin’s Hawkmoth - Xanthopan morgani praedicta) was discovered and his conjecture vindicated…

(read more: Wikipedia)


top illustration from The Orchid Album (1897), authors: R. Warner & B.S. Williams, illustrator: John Nugent Finch

bottom illustration by Thomas William Wood, 1867

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