The column of some orchids descends from the top of the flower when a male bee lands and deposits pollinia on its head.

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With European orchids, "If and when a male bee finds the flower, he settles upon the lip, grasping it in exactly the same way as he grasps a female bee, and tries to copulate, thrusting the tip of his abdomen into the fringe of long hairs at the end of the lip. He fails, of course, but in the process, a curved column that houses both male and female organs, descends from the top of the orchid and glues a pair of pollinia to his head. If the next orchid he visits has already despatched its pollinia, then the column will pick up the one he carries and the orchid is fertilised." (Attenborough 1995:126)

The Private Life of PlantsAugust 21, 1995
David Attenborough

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