Banana plants are parthenocarpic, meaning that fruits are produced without pollination. As there is no fertilisation of the ovules, the fruits are seedless (above). Parthenocarpy (literally meaning virgin fruit) is the plant equivalent of parthenogenesis in animals (development of the embryo without the egg being fertilised, sometimes termed virgin birth).
In an earlier post, it was stated that Stingless Bees (Trigona sp.) may be the pollinating agent (above). However, as no seeds form in the fruits they visit (top), it is obvious that they are not effective pollinating agents . Furthermore, bagging the inflorescence to keep off these bees similarly result in fruits without seeds (below).
The Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) regularly visits the flowers for the nectar. Because their bill is a little too short to access the nectar if it is to probe from the top of the flowers, they resort to stealing nectar by probing the flowers around the base (below). As the bill does not make contact with the pollen, there is no pollination of subsequent flowers the sunbird visits.
Artificial pollination by transferring pollen to the stigmatic surfaces of female flowers resulted in fruits bigger than the normal unpollinated ones (below).
The artificially pollinated flowers produce fruits packed with large, black seeds (below).
4th August 2017