Oil on Canvas, 24" x 30", 2016
Orchid: Cynoches warscewiczii
Native Range: Southeast Panama, Columbia, Venezuela
Pollinator: Fragrance collecting male Euglossine bees
Conservation Status: Not threatened
“Orchids depend on other plants, animals and insects for pollination and survival. They display a delicately balanced interdependence on the organisms that coexist within their habitats.
Most orchids have evolved to attract one single specific pollinator to one specific species of orchid. These complex interdependencies make orchids extremely susceptible to the effects of global warming, deforestation (whether man-made or naturally occurring), or even the global spread of pesticides.
The loss of an insect or bird pollinator, alone, may spell doom for the orchid that depends on it for pollination. The dramatic effects of climate change on orchid populations are becoming even more evident as wet habitats dry up and dry habitats become more uniformly moist.
Habitat change and forest destruction aren’t new issues; however, their alarming rate of acceleration has made adaptation extremely difficult for the orchid, its pollinators and the ecosystems that support them.
I consider the orchid to be an environmental indicator or the “the canary in the mine."
Cycnoches warscewicziiis one of 30 or so species of Cynoches, the Swan Orchids, and belonging to a curious group of New World Orchids which grow in the American Tropics. Cynoches produce flowers that are usually of only one sex. While individual plants are capable of producing flowers of either sex, typically only male or only female flowers are produced on any given inflorescence.
Cycnoches warscewiczii, the most attractive of the genus, is commonly misidentified as Cycnoches chlorochilon in collections. Powerfully fragrant, this species is pollinated by male Eulaema cingulata, one of a number of Euglossine bee species commonly called “orchid bees”. These bees are attracted to the powerfully resinous fragrances which the males use to attract females of their species.”