Plant-Pollinator Porn

Here is a selection of pictures by Christian Ziegler, naturalist and photojournalist for National Geographic. They depict animal-flower interactions in general, not only pollination events. And porn is in the eyes of the viewer, as well as in the eye of the maker. But Plant-Pollinator Porn makes a better acronym, so I’ll stick to that.

Today, I will post about orchids and their pollination. The orchid family is the largest plant family with some 28000 to 32000 species, and all species have highly specialized pollinators. In some cases it is a bees (as seen here in Panama), in other cases birds, beetles, ants, flies and so on… but they all depend on these highly specialized interactions to guarantee pollination and future reproduction. These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

I observed this scene in northwestern Australia, here the King spider orchid (Caldenia sp.) is being visited by its pollinator, a male parasitic wasp, which is attracted to the flower by a faux female wasp pheromone. These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

I saw this Masdevallia orchid when I was walking next to a mountain river in Panama. At closer inspection, I saw a tiny fly walking all over the flower and inadvertently acting as a pollinator. The fly was attracted to the ‘scents’ of rotten flesh that the orchid emits. The fly is a carcass feeder, hoping for a good meal! These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

This is my favorite example as it illustrates the insanely complex pollination systems of orchids. This bucket orchid (Coryanthes panamensis) lives in Panama and is visited by male orchid bees attracted to the flower’s scent. However, in the process of pollinating the flower the bee is nearly drowned in the bucket’s liquid and yet, when they escape, they immediately go for another flower…. not very clever these male bees… These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

A field portrait of a hammer orchid (Drakaea sp.). This must be the weirdest looking orchid I photographed – the flower didn’t even look like a flower. It is pollinated by male wasps that it deceives by imitating a female wasp in both looks and scent. These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

Meet the kinkajou (Potos flavus), the king of the tree crown in Central America. At night, kinkajous are the dominant animals in the Balsa tree (Ochroma pyramidale) and chase everybody out of the canopy so they can have the nectar to themselves. Each flower can hold up to 55 ml of nectar. @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Panama #conservation #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

A woolly Opossum (Caluromys derbianus) is feeding on the nectar of a Balsa flower (Ochroma pyramidale). This is the smallest regular visitor to the flower; they come to feed just around sunset because any later they risk being chased out of the tree by larger animals, like the kinkajou. @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Panama #conservation #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on