The peculiar pouch and staminode that characterise the slipper orchids are central elements to a cunning pollination strategy for this plant (5) (6). Firstly, the fragrance of the flower or the colouration of the staminode (or a combination of the two) attracts would be pollinators, such as bees and flies. However, the shield-like staminode prevents the insects from directly accessing the flower, and frustrated individuals often fall into the pouch below. The only escape from the slippery-sided pouch is to ascend a ladder of hairs, through the column and out the base of the flower, bringing the insects into contact with the stigma and the anthers in the process (5). The newly-escaped insects inevitably end up falling foul of the same ruse, and in doing so, transfer pollen from one flower to the stigma of another (4) (5) (6).
In common with all orchids, the seeds of slipper orchids are microscopic and lack food reserves. As a consequence, they are dependant on a symbiotic relationship with a fungus which provides the initial nutrient reserves for the seeds to germinate, and thus will only grow where the fungus is present (5).