Orchid species crucial to Charles Darwin on sale at Aylett Nurseries

Aylett Nurseries is selling the famous orchid which helped form Darwin's theory of natural selection.

The St Albans-based garden centre has a limited number of young plants of Angraecum sesquipedale to sell over the Easter weekend.

Already on display and wowing the customers and staff is an older specimen plant, which is on loan from Ivens Orchid Nursery in Sandridge.

It is the orchid which Charles Darwin predicted was pollinated by a moth with a long proboscis and that the insect must have adapted in tandem with the plant.

In his time no such moth was known about and many other scientists dismissed his theory.  But Darwin was proved correct posthumously in 1903 when a hawk moth was discovered with a 30cm long proboscis.

Ivens Orchid Nursery won a Gold Medal at the RHS Orchid Show in London with the 40-year-old plant.

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