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Pollination of Golden Penda flowers by insects

on 16th December 2014

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
Singapore
December 2014

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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