Field of Science

Unique bird pollination adaptation - poofty anthers

Here's a link to a newly published study describing and documenting a very unique bird pollination adaptation. The anthers have a "spongy" bulb of tissue and they are attractive to birds.  When a bird grasps the "bulb" to pluck it from the flower, the tissue collapses and blows a puff of pollen onto the face/head of the bird, thus placing the pollen in a location to be transferred to another flower's stigma. This is a totally unique anther adaptation. The common ornamental called the "wishbone" flower (Torenia) has levers on its anthers that when pushed squeeze out pollen like toothpaste from a tube, but that's still quite different.  In the bird pollination paper the flowers are part of the Melastome family, a group of plants that tend to have large, gaudy stamens (for example), but TPP has never seen anything like this.  Cool. 

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