Deceived by orchids: sex, science, fiction and Darwin

  title={Deceived by orchids: sex, science, fiction and Darwin},
  author={Jim Endersby},
  journal={The British Journal for the History of Science},
  pages={205 - 229}
  • J. Endersby
  • Published 1 June 2016
  • Art
  • The British Journal for the History of Science
Abstract Between 1916 and 1927, botanists in several countries independently resolved three problems that had mystified earlier naturalists – including Charles Darwin: how did the many species of orchid that did not produce nectar persuade insects to pollinate them? Why did some orchid flowers seem to mimic insects? And why should a native British orchid suffer ‘attacks’ from a bee? Half a century after Darwin's death, these three mysteries were shown to be aspects of a phenomenon now known as… 

Spain's magic mountain: narrating prehistory at Atapuerca.

This article interprets this multimedia industry in northern Spain as a generator of different narratives about the researchers as well as about the prehistoric hominids of Atapuerca about the popular works of the three co-directors of the project.

Fear of a Queer Plant?

Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová’s 2000 surrealist film Otesánek (Little Otik), based on a Czech folktale of the same name, begins in a gynecologist’s office, where Mrs. Hárakóva is in the midst

For a new weird geography

The contemporary ecological condition is one of ‘global weirding’, a term coined to describe both anthropogenically changed worlds and the experience of dwelling within them. In this paper, we



Darwin teleologist? Design in The orchids.

Of Orchids, insects, and natural theology: Timing, tactics, and cultural critique in darwin's post-“Origin” strategy

This essay examines the relation of Darwin's orchids book to a central persuasive flaw in theOrigin: Its inability to give variation sufficient “presence” to break the hold of “design” in the mind of

Inspiration in the Harness of Daily Labor: Darwin, Botany, and the Triumph of Evolution, 1859–1868

The Origin's reception followed this peculiar trajectory because Darwin had not initially tied its theory to productive original scientific investigation, which left him vulnerable to charges of reckless speculation.

Une Fleur du Mal? Swinburne's "The Sundew" and Darwin's Insectivorous Plants

IN 1884 ARTICLE FOR THE CORNHILL ENTITLED "QUEER FLOWERS," A SURVEY of some of the extraordinary discoveries in recent botany, the popular science writer and novelist Grant Allen opened his

The Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom

There is no risk whatever in stating that the present volume at once takes and will always retain a classical position in botanical literature, when one considers that these are not the only things which have come during late years from the same apparently inexhaustible treasury.

The Cambridge Companion to the "Origin of Species"

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognized as one of the most important science books ever written. Published in 1859, it was where Darwin argued for both the fact of evolution

Chance Variation: Darwin on Orchids

In his 1866 book, On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects, Darwin developed an argument that played an important role in his overall case for evolution by natural selection, as articulated in later editions of the Origin.

Charles Darwin Solves the “Riddle of the Flower”; Or, Why Don't Historians of Biology Know about the Birds and the Bees?

This iconography captures a key development in the history of nineteenth-century science by depicting Charles Darwin as both the sun around which these acolytes orbited and the trunk from which their work sprung.

A Guinea Pig's History of Biology: The plants and animals who taught us the facts of life

Jim Endersby's strikingly original book tells the history of modern biology through the stories of the animals and plants that made it possible, showing how the guinea-pig and its colleagues have played a pivotal role in the authors' gradual understanding of what genes are and what they do.

The Story of Nature: Victorian Popularizers and Scientific Narrative

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Reverend Henry Hutchinson (1856-1927), a popularizer of geology, commented on the explosion of popular science works produced by journalists and writers