Field of Science

Rainforest Field Trip - Luscious Lips

On many occasions the Phactor has tried to illustrate the problem plants have in dispersal of their pollen and seeds. The basic rule is pretty simple: attracting dispersers requires a display, and the bigger the display the better the dispersal. Another problem is that flowers are often either too small or too ephemeral to make a large, long-lasting display, so very often bracts, modified leaves associated with flowers, are used to produce larger, long-lasting displays for many plants. Some of these displays last long enough to also serve in seed dispersal, and this pair of red bracts belonging to Psychotria poeppigiana in the coffee family, looking quite like a pair of luscious lips, lasts long enough that after attracting pollinators to the rather small white flowers, they attract seed-dispersers to the blue fruits. With only 1 fruit remaining, their job is about done, and the lips aren't looking so kissable.


Mary said...


The Phytophactor said...

Yes, the Phactor does requests, sometimes.