G o n g o r a   O r c h i d

Like other orchids, the gongora grows on the trunks and branches of forest trees. Plants like the orchid and the tank bromeliad that do not root in the soil, but that grow on other plants for support, are called epiphytes. Such plants are not parasites, because they do not take nourishment from the host plants.

This orchid has brightly colored flowers that produce a powerful fragrance attractive to bees. The gongora flower is shaped in a way that attracts and allows only certain kinds of nectar-seeking bees to pick up or to deposit pollen that they have carried in from other orchids.

Without the trees the orchid would have no support on which to grow. Without the bees the orchid would not be able to successfully reproduce.

Epiphytes like orchids build up a humus mat on the tree limbs. This mat provides a home for flies and beetles and a good hunting ground for insect-eating birds. Orchid flowers supply nectar, oils, and perfume for bees, flies, and butterflies.