The story of a flying mouse guarding a plant? This sounds really legendary, what is going on…

In the Shennongjia Nature Reserve, Hubei, there is a magical story of “flying squirrels guarding golden hairpins”. The protagonists of the story are not knights and princesses on the rivers and lakes, but a pair of interdependent animal and plant friends.

Plant trivia: Why does flying squirrel protect gold hairpin
Plant trivia: Why does flying squirrel protect gold hairpin

Golden hairpin, also known as “Dendrobium nobile”, is an extremely valuable Chinese herbal medicine. Because of its scarce quantity and mostly growing on the cliffs of deep mountains and old forests, it becomes more precious. According to legend, a medicine farmer went deep into Shennongjia. After climbing a few mountains, he tied a rope and climbed down a cliff, and finally found a rare golden hairpin. Excited, he took out his tools and was just about to pick it. Suddenly a group of flying squirrels fell from the sky and snapped off the sling in a thunderous manner. Yao Nong fell off the cliff and died.


There is no need to explore the truth of this legend, but there is no doubt that the flying squirrel guards the Dendrobium nobile. Why is there such a special “friendship” between the two? After a long period of observation and research, scientists finally solved this mystery. It turns out that flying squirrels are called flying squirrels in Chinese, and they belong to the rodent family of mammals. There is a layer of skin between its fore and hind limbs. When the limbs are unfolded, it can be like a parachute, enabling it to glide among the tall mountains and trees, so it is commonly called flying squirrel by the locals. Because flying squirrels have a very special hobby, that is, they like the smell of Dendrobium nobile, so they always live with Dendrobium nobile. And Dendrobium nobile also needs the help of flying squirrels, because Dendrobium nobile usually grows on cliffs, and it is difficult to absorb other nutrients needed for growth except for carbohydrate energy substances produced by photosynthesis. Feces provide it with excellent nourishment. It is precisely because Dendrobium nobile and Flying Squirrel have this mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship that is beneficial to both parties, the phenomenon of “life and death friendship” between them is normal.

Flying squirrel

The flying squirrel desperately protects Dendrobium nobile, in addition to “friendship”, but also because of its ability to protect. Experts who study rodents tell us that flying squirrels are fierce and possess a strong sense of territory. Other animals are not allowed to invade its territory. Naturally, medicine farmers are not allowed to take away its “friends.” Moreover, their teeth are very sharp, and even thick ropes can be snapped off quickly.

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