Insect Pollination of Orchids

The pollination of orchids involves a diversity of highly evolved interactions with insects of various taxa. As a first step in adding new orchid pollination material to the website here is a contribution from two of the most accomplished investigators of this fascinating subject. Jean Claessens and Jacques Kleynen have done more than most people in modern times to record and unravel the intricacies of how orchids and insects interact. Recently, they published a comprehensive book on the subject, including descriptions of their original observations. This book "The Flower of the European Orchid Form and Function" is featured on their website at For a review of the book from the Journal of the Hardy Orchid Society (JHOS) CLICK HERE. You can order a copy from the authors HERE.


Jean (left) and Jacques (right) have been valued contributors of both excellent lectures at HOS meetings and informative articles in JHOS. Their recent JHOS articles can be viewed as .pdf via the links below and there are links to some excellent video clips of orchid pollination that Jaen Claessens has kindly allowed us to use on the HOS website - they are well worth a look! The latter are in Flash format (flv) so need the free Adobe Flash Player to view.

Video Clips

Wasp Pollination of Violet Helleborine
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Wasp Pollination of Broad-leaved Helleborine
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Honey Bee Pollination of Broad-leaved Helleborine
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Butterfly pollination of Fragrant Orchid
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Pollination of Common Twayblade by various insects
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Flies visiting Ghost Orchid
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articles as .pdf

Jean Claessens and Jacques Kleynen (2013)
The Pollination of the European Orchids Part 1: Introduction and the Genera Orchis and Dactylorhiza
10 (3): 83-89

Jean Claessens and Jacques Kleynen (2013)
The Pollination of European Orchids: Part 2: Cypripedium and Cephalanthera

JHOS 10 (4): 114-120

Jean Claessens and Jacques Kleynen (2014)
The pollination of European Orchids Part 3: Limodorum and Epipactis
11 (2): 64-72

Other Pollination Articles from JHOS

Roy Sexton (2014)
Moth pollinators of Greater Butterfly Orchids Platanthera chlorantha in Central Scotland
JHOS 11 (1): 14-22

Richard Bateman & Roy Sexton (2007)
Survey Of The Spurs Of European Butterfly Orchids
JHOS 4 (2): 60-63

Richard Bateman & Roy Sexton (2008)
Ongoing Platanthera Spur-length Survey, A Great Success

JHOS 5 (1): 20-23

Richard Bateman (2009)
HOS Platanthera Spur-length Suvey Concludes:
Correlation Between Spur Length And Leaf Width Is Weak

JHOS 6 (4): 136-140

Mike Gasson (2013)
Pollination in the Early-purple Orchid
JHOS 10 (2): 60-66

CLICK HERE for details of the ongoing Early-purple Orchid pollinaton study