Pollination by rain (ombrophily) has been reported for several flowering plants but evidence for this type of abiotic pollination has remained controversial. Fan et al. investigate the reproductive ecology of Acampe rigida, a deceptive orchid with high fruit set that blooms during the rainy season in south-west China when pollinator service is unreliable. They find that A. rigida is self-compatible but incapable of autonomous self-pollination without the assistance of rain splashes, and demonstrate that the orchid has a suite of floral characters that facilitate this. By means of a manipulative field experiment they provide convincing evidence of ombrophily, which probably functions as a mechanism of reproductive assurance without compromising opportunities for outcrossing.