The Calabash Tree series: 1. The Plant; 2. Flowers and bees.
The flowers of the Calabash Tree (Crescentia cujete) begin to bloom in the late evening and last one night (above). By next morning the rings of petals litter the ground below, leaving only the long stamen arising from the basal ovary. If the flowers are not pollinated this structure will fall off from the branch the next day.
In an effort to identify the pollinating agent or agents, night observations were made on the flowers. A lizard was detected inside a flower one night, obviously seeking out the nectar. The lizard moved off rapidly when the flower was handled.
The next step was to set up a video-cam with lighting from a pair powerful lamps from midnight and 0130 hours. This revealed a nocturnal lizard, visiting a pair of nearby flowers for their nectar (above, below).
The lizard was identified by Kelvin KP Lim of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum as the Mourning Gecko or Maritime Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris). This nocturnal and aboreal lizard is supposedly widespread throughout Singapore. It is an all-female species that reproduce by parthenogenesis (virgin birth) (Baker & Lim, 2008).
26th September 2017
Baker, N. & K. Lim (eds.). 2008. Wild animals of Singapore: A photographic guide to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.
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