Pollination of Bottle Gourd flowers

on 16th July 2019
The plant.

The Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) belongs to the cucumber family Cucurbitaceae. It is a strong climber with large heart-shaped leaves (above).

Male flowers.

The plant bears male and female flowers on slender stalks. The female flowers are differentiated from the male by the presence of a swollen ovary at the end of the stalk. Fruits are variable in shape and size, often globular, bottle- or club-shaped that can develop to a metre long.

    Female flower.

Flowers open at night. Pollination is mainly by bees. However, the male and female flowers do not always open at about the same time. Depending on the temperature, the petals of the male flowers may begin to open during the late evening while those of the female after dusk.

In the late evenings when male flowers are yet to open, Stingless Bees (Trigona sp.) can be seen visiting the female flowers (video below).

On the other hand, in the early mornings when the petals of the female flowers have wilted, thus preventing access to the stigma, both Stingless and Common Honey Bees (Apis cerana) can be seen visiting the male flowers (video below).

In such a situation when male and female flowers do not open at the same time, low fruit formation is the result. As such, hand pollination is recommended for better fruit formation, either done at night or early the next morning.

The fruit.

The young shoots and fruits are eaten as vegetables. The tough, hard shells of mature fruits are used as containers, made into decorative handicrafts, floats and musical instruments. In New Guinea elongated fruits are used as penis sheaths, locally known as “horim” LINK.

YC Wee
31st March 2019

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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