Field of Science

Nocturnal pollination

Most people don't realize that many plants flower and interact with pollinators at night, particularly in the tropics.  An article in the latest American Journal of Botany provided a nice image of a hawkmoth, an insect version of a hummingbird, visiting a night-blooming plant (Oenothera harringtonii). Notice that the flowers are white and don't actually open very much except at the top of the corolla, but the stigma is exposed. The long proboscis of the hawkmoth is inserted to get a reward delivering and withdrawing pollen in the process. This is a terrific image for teaching, and a very interesting study (open access): Land-use change has no detectable effect on reproduction of a disturbance-adapted, hawkmoth-pollinated plant species, a study by my very talented Chi-town colleague Krissa Skogen and her collaborators (November 2016 vol. 103 no. 11 1950-1963). 

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