Spring might seem far away with the onset of Autumn, but in South Africa we are blessed with many months of warm weather, hardly have a winter season, especially in the summer rainfall regions, and before we know it spring has sprung and we are abuzz with the bloom and busyness of the warmer weather, and our gardens closely resemble a vibrant market place where insects and birds come to taste the floral wares in exchange for their pollinating services. Flowers are in abundance and the birds and bees are busy doing what they do best of all – pollinate the plants.
Pollination of flowers:
Eye-catching watsonias in electric colours, pastel-coloured freesias that perfume the air and sculpted disas with delicate petals – there is indeed a massive variety amongst plants and flowers which all is made possible through pollination. With the rising sunlight flowers make use of extravagant colour, scent and shape to attract a plethora of enthusiastic little animals and insects.
During the pollination process male pollen in transferred to the female egg cells of another flower of the same class and the seed is then fertilized. The carrying of pollen from flower to flower occurs through different ways and means, ranging from something as random as the wind to a select plant and animal species.
It is the structure and function of flowers more than anything that dictates how pollination for individual flowers takes place – flowers which set their pollen on the breeze produce massive clouds of fine dust that is caught in passing by the recipient. The structure of the female – in other words the stigma, is designed for this and is more often than not wide with a flat tip protruding far beyond the petals. These flowers are usually numerous is quantity, small, scentless and do not have bright colours, having no need to attract a courier – most typical are the grasses.
The majority of plants are insect pollinated and their dominant service providers are beetles, bees, moths, butterflies and flies. But the most conspicuous pollinators are birds as they fly to and from their designated flowers.
The next time you receive a wonderful bunch of flowers, take note that the colour and form of flowers are not haphazard but serve to attract and guide the pollinator.
Article sponsored by Netflorist.