New orchid smells like 'sweaty feet'

Yosemite bog-orchidScientists announced Monday the discovery of a rare — and stinky — orchid species that flourishes only in the wet meadows of a beloved portion of Yosemite National Park.

Botanist Alison Colwell said the species' minute, tennis-ball-yellow flowers weren't what first led her to it, but rather the smell of sweaty feet that the Yosemite bog-orchid emits to attract pollinators.

"I was out surveying clovers one afternoon, and I started smelling something. I was like, 'Eew, what's that?' " said Colwell, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey in El Portal.

The plant, which is the only known orchid species endemic to California's Sierra Nevada range, grows in spring-fed areas between 6,000 and 9,000 feet, Colwell said.

All nine sites where the orchid has been seen are in the park, some adjacent to areas popular among visitors.

Link & Image: Seattle Times
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