Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Dombeya spectabilis

This is not a plant you see very often. It was formerly in the Sterculia family, but the Mallow family was enlarged to include all such genera. In truth the flowers and leaves are very mallowish. The flowers are just at the lower range of what is considered large, about 2-2.5 cm in diameter, but they are clustered into rounded inflorescences to make quite a display. This species has brighter pink flowers than other species the Phactor has seen, perhaps the reason for calling it "spectacular". Dombeya is an honorific for a hard-luck French botanist who kept getting his impressive and valuable collections "stolen" and as a result some still reside in the British Museum. The interesting thing is that as the flower opens, the edges of the petals are dusted with pollen functioning perhaps as a pollen presenter, which is somewhat unusual especially for the perianth. But the trouble with such captives is that you do not get to see them interact with other organisms in the wild so how they work remains unknown.

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