Animals attracted to the Banana inflorescence

posted in: Fauna, Plants, Videography | 2

The image above shows two banana plants (Musa ‘Cavindish’), each with a fully developed inflorescence branch. The upper portion bears developing fruits from female flowers.

The plant in the foreground has a length of bare branch below the fruit bunches. This portion bore male flowers that subsequently fall off. At the bottom of the branch is a compact, teardrop-shaped inflorescence bud that will continue to give rise to male flowers – see HERE for details of the inflorescence morphology.

The banana flowers produce copious nectar that attracts a range of animals. Even after blooming, nectar is produced and can be literally seen dripping off the flowers, even up to a few days after (below).

Because of this nectar the entire inflorescence has become a unique ecosystem supporting various organisms, most prominent of which are birds like the Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster) that feed on the nectar LINK and the White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) that feed on the ripening fruits LINK.

Less obvious fauna are Cave Nectar Bats (Eonycteris spelaea) as they appear only after dusk to feed on the flower nectar – as shown in the video above. They probe with their narrow projecting snout into the flowers to lick up the nectar with gusto, as clearly shown in the video.

Again, seldom seen are the nocturnal Spotted House Geckos (Gekko monarchs) that reside among the flowers, also to feed on the nectar as well as the resident ants (above, below).

Both the bat and the lizard are sensitive to each other’s presence, the former flying off and the latter scurrying between the flowers should either be caught unaware.

YC Wee
January 2015

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