Children's Science Through Detective Stories
Excerpts from The Orchid Grower - A Juvenile Science Adventure Novel
|Chemistry Gumshoes||Botany Gumshoes||Genetics Gumshoes||Geometry Gumshoes|
The Orchid Grower
A Juvenile Science Adventure Novel about Orchids and Genetic Engineering
Botany GumShoes: Identification of Orchids
A Really Smashing Clue
...Because the pepper tree was a solid one, and the branches large enough, they could look for clues in comfort. They searched in vain. Joab took a few more photographs, this time with the aid of a small, powerful flash because it was so dark among the leafy branches. Then, satisfied, he slid the camera and flash back in his pocket, and they sat down on a solid branch, their legs dangling.
“You have something to say about the flower, don’t you?” said Joab, thrusting the box in her face.
Dina examined the crushed flower, holding it with the tweezers. “Just what I thought,” she said, all but panting with excitement. “An orchid flower.”
“What’s the big fuss? On his way to Hannah’s house, one of the burglars must have rubbed against some flowers in the neighborhood and an orchid flower stuck to his sleeve. Then, when he handled Hannah’s jewelry box, it fell inside. So what?”
“So what? Listen to this,” Dina went on, full of her own importance. “Orchids are Mediterranean plants. That means they need a temperate climate—mild temperatures, not too hot or cold. But Dimona is in the middle of the Israeli desert so—”
“Didn’t they teach you at school that Dimona is located in the north of the Negev?”
“Then why on earth don’t you simply say ‘Negev’ instead of ‘the Israeli desert,’” complained Joab.
“Yes, sir!” Dina smiled and went on. “Well, as I said, Israeli orchids need a mild climate, not too hot or cold. But Dimona is in the middle of the Israeli desert…Negev, of course, so—”
“What on earth are you talking about? You’re wasting our time.”
“I’m trying to explain,” Dina went on with gritted teeth, “that in Dimona orchids couldn’t just grow in a windowbox or a garden. You need a greenhouse to give them the right climate. And that costs a lot of money, so—”
“Biggie! Biggie! A really smashing clue!” Joab bounced up and down, releasing a shower of little green leaves. “One little step ahead of Nir and the guys from the club.”
He slapped his sister on the shoulder.
“What’s gotten into you?” exclaimed Dina, grabbing a branch above her head to keep her balance.
“I…I…am just amazed at what a clever sister I have.”
Dina blushed with pleasure, her smile revealing the glittering metal braces on her teeth that only added charm to her freckled face.
“Just a waste of time, huh?”
“Then tell us, clever Dick,” said Joab, offended, “how on earth you know that’s an orchid and not something else?”
“As easy as ABC,” said Dina, glad of the opportunity to demonstrate her knowledge. “Look, all orchids are alike in that they have six leaf-like parts—three colored sepals, two petals and a third, specialized, petal called the lip that’s much bigger and wonderful in shape and color.”
“Then show us that wonderful lip, dear clever Dick.”
“You crushed it when you picked the flower up after the wind blew it out of the box. Remember?”
Joab studied the flower, his expression doubting. “I can see the six parts. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we really have an orchid here. But there are many kinds of orchids, aren’t there?”
“Then can you tell what kind of orchid we have?”
“Nothing to it,” Dina said. “An Anatolian orchid, of course. Look at the wine color, look at the brown specks.” She let out a sigh. “If you hadn’t destroyed it, I could show you its main identifying mark, the spur that winds up from the base of the lip like a gazelle’s horn.”
“The spur,” explained Dina, “is a little bag that’s sometimes full of nectar, and it attracts the insects that pollinate the flowers.”
“Are you sure about all this?”
“Of course, I’m sure. You'll see it in your own photographs.”
“Well…” Joab glanced at his watch. “…it’s clear the burglars, whoever they are, didn’t notice the flower stuck to their clothes in their greenhouse, and when they took Hannah’s jewelry box it fell inside. So, we only have to track down the orchid growers in Dimona. I don’t suppose there are too many of them because it’s so expensive. Then we find those who have Mamatolian orchids in their greenhouse. Do you know orchid growers in Dimona?” he asked hopefully.
“First, the name isn’t ‘Mamatolian’ but ‘A-na-to-li-an.’ Anatolian orchid, Joby.”
“Orchid growers in Dimona, Din.” ...
* This is an excerpt from The Orchid Grower - A juvenile science adventure novel about orchids and genetic engineering.