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    4 posts, 4 voices, 855 views, started May 11, 2013

    Posted on Saturday, May 11, 2013 by Nathalie Girard

    • Sapphire

      Yes, it’s that time of year again when flowers bloom. But do you know how plants reproduce? What’s the need for flowers? I thought you might be interested to know...

      Most flowers are bisexual. Their male organs are the anthers. They produce male spores which are called pollen grains. The female organ is the pistil that contains the ovary. The transfer of pollen grains from the anther to the pistil of the same flower or another flower of the same plant or another plant of the same species is called pollination.  

      How is pollen brought from one flower to the next?  

      Plants need pollinating agents. I’m sure bees pop up in your mind, but they are far from being the only ones.

      There are many ways pollen is brought from one flower to another. A few aquatic plants use water to share their pollen. Some plants use the wind as pollinating agent. This implies massive quantities of pollen in order to work. Only 20% of wild or cultivated plants rely on water or wind exclusively as pollinators.

      This leaves 80% of the task to animals, mainly insects and some birds( hummingbirds for example)or small mammals (bats for example), to carry their pollen. They pollinate flowers accidently while looking for food, shelter or partner.  

      In other words, the survival of 80% of plants on this planet depends on insects to reproduce, and all this insects need these plants to survive too. Some plants only have one particular insect that can pollinate it, like vanilla for instance. Since this wild bee did not adapt outside its original region (Central America), all vanilla growing in other regions must be pollinated by hand- which explains its high cost. Others are pollinated by any, from the bumble bee to different kinds of beetles, like the dandelion.  

      What insects pollinate flowers?
      Do they all look like bees?

      The Hymenoptera Family  

      This family gathers bees, bumblebees, wasps, ants, a total of 280 000 species in the world. They have two sets of membrane wings (non-existent on working ants but visible on their queen and males during reproduction season). Even though the honey bee is the most popular, many other different kinds of wild bees (1000 species just in France) play an essential part in plant reproduction. Wasps and ants also appreciate nectar. This family is the most efficient pollination wise, especially all bees and bumblebees.  

      The Diptera Family  

      Flies, Hoverflies, and Large Bee Flies only have one pair of wings. The second one is replaced by "rockers", flight stabilizing organs.  We know at least 140 000 species worldwide at the moment.  These pollinators play a crucial role for small flowers that are not so attractive to the big pollinators.  

      Rose Chafer and other Beetles  

      The anterior wings of beetles are hard and rigid. They form a shell that protects the abdomen and back wings. Amongst the 300 000 species found around the world, many feed on nectar, like the rose chafer, the bee beetle or the Thick-Legged Flower Beetle. They are the least efficient of all pollinators, but still their action makes a difference. The first pollinating insects known to us were a kind of small beetle two hundred million years ago.

      Lepidoptera Family  

      In other words: butterflies. There are 160 000 species known worldwide.  Most of them are moths, night butterflies. They have the advantage to have a long trump to go fetch the nectar. You can see it rolled up in a spiral when they rest.  

      Hope you enjoyed and learned from this! estatic

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