Pollination of Golden Penda flowers by insects

posted in: Fauna, Plants | 1

A total of six species of birds have been documented visiting the Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) for its nectar LINK. Birds obviously are an important pollinating agent of this tree. In addition to the above, various bees, wasps and ants have been seen among the flowers. This post reports the presence of the Stingless Bee (Trigona sp.) and Fruit Fly (Drosophila melanogaster) visiting the flowers – the former for the pollen and the latter for the nectar.

The numerous yellow stamens are long, each bearing a pair of elongated pollen sacs at the end. The top image shows the dorsal view of the stamens, the above image shows the ventral view where the pair of pollen sacs are visible. These pollen sacs split along the longitudinal axis to liberate the numerous microscopic pollen grains – the image below has the colours manipulated to show the clumps of pollen grains along the edges.

Insects visiting the flowers will end up covered with these pollen grains. They will then transfer the pollen to the stigma head when they visit another flower. In this way cross pollination occurs.

The Stingless Bee visits the flowers mainly to collect the pollen. The above image shows the bee with its two pollen baskets stuffed with pollen.

The bee lands on the anther (above), bites the end to force more pollen out (below). For details on how it uses its legs to comb the pollen grains from its body and stuff them into the pollen baskets, see this LINK.

At the same time the Fruit Fly (Drosophila sp. ) has also been seen on the stamens (below).

This 3 mm long fly, with distinct brick-red eyes and brownish body, visits for the flower nectar. In the process it may end up with a few pollen grains on its body when it lands on the anther (below), thus also helping in pollination.

YC Wee
December 2014

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