Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gaywings, Part II

Gaywing flowers may leave bees with a let-down feeling. 
 Although the gaywings may look like toy airplanes, they have an ingenious pollination system that toys with the bees.
Gaywings are also called fringed polygala.
That name partly comes from the frilly little fringes protruding from the front of the blossom.

A pollinator coming in for a landing would likely land just above those fringes right?

When it lands, the landing pad gives way and the pollinator get a poke in the belly.
That is because those fringes are attached to a hinged pouch that drops down from the weight of the pollinator.  Meanwhile, the stiff pollen bearing structure protrudes up through a slit in the pouch and delivers a poke of pollen to the belly of the pollinator.

Compare the before and after shots below.
Here is a photo of the gaywings' flower with some petals removed to show the pouch which conceals the pollinator poker.
Here is a photo of the pouch pivoted down and the pollen applicator protruding up through a slit in the pouch.

I must say that is quite a nifty way to apply pollen to a transportation device.
Gaywings pack a pollinator punch.
What else are they concealing?

To be continued...

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