or technically, the gynostemium
is a reproductive structure in the center of an orchid
flower. It is derived from the fusion of both male and female parts into a single organ that both releases the pollen and also receives it (ideally from another individual) for fertilization. Unlike almost all other plants (see Asclepiadaceae
) the single male anther at the tip of the column produces pollen
that is not free and powdery but held in waxy masses of two, four or six pellets called pollinia. The transfer of pollinia from one flower to another, though highly efficient is often reliant upon one species of insect
and therefore can be catastrophic for the plant if it's pollinator disappears.