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Linné on line arrow Plants and Animals arrow Linnaeus and the plants arrow The star of Bethlehem

The star of Bethlehem

Photo: Börge Pettersson.

In Madagascar there is an orchid with a spur, more than 30 cm long. It is called the star of Bethlehem or Angraecum sesquipedale. When Darwin saw it in the 19th century, he realized that there must be a moth with almost as long a proboscis pollinating the orchid.

In 1903 such a moth was discovered in Madagascar, a moth given the name Xanthopan morgani ssp. praedicta. Praedicta means the predicted.

The pollination of the star of Bethlehem takes place during night, and no one has yet seen the moth pollinate the orchid. It is a challenge for scientists of today to provide evidence from the pollination of the star of Bethlehem. At Uppsala University such a project is in progress.