2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Houseplants of aspidistra, whose flowers are located very close to the ground, can use smell and appearance in their natural environment to attract atypical pollinators. This is the conclusion reached by Japanese scientists who studied the pollination of the Aspidistra elatior aspidistra. The article was published in the journal Ecology.
Pollination is an important stage in plant propagation. With cross-pollination, a plant needs an intermediary, most often a living organism, for example, an insect (this kind of pollination is called entomophilia), a vertebrate animal (zoophilia), or a person (this type of pollination is called artificial). The flowers of some plant species are located close to the ground - in this case, instead of flying insects (the most common pollinators), terrestrial inhabitants, for example, slugs or fleas, are more often pollinators.
Since the end of the 19th century, slugs have been considered the main pollinators of plants of the genus Aspidistra. However, there is no reliable data on the pollination of flowers of these plants by slugs - perhaps gastropods prefer aspidistra as their main food place. This role is also attributed to crustaceans, but until now it was not known who is the main pollinator of these plants.
The authors of the new work, Japanese biologists Kenji Suetsugu and Masahiro Sueyoshi, have been monitoring the pollination of Aspidistra elatior plant populations in their natural habitat in Japan for two years. Scientists found that the most frequent visitors to the plants were the mushroom mosquitoes of the Cordyla sixi species, which usually feed on mushrooms. Individuals caught for analysis carried large volumes of pollen, and the flowers they visited bore fruit (in two cases out of five), even despite the general low prevalence of this phenomenon.
The individuals caught by the scientists were also males, which excludes the use of flowers as a place for raising a brood. In addition, aspidistra flowers do not produce nectar, leading scientists to conclude that mosquito pollination is not a mutually beneficial task. According to scientists, Cordyla sixi are attracted by the mushroom-like appearance and smell of this species of aspidistra.
The most common pollinator is still bees. Their numbers, however, are falling rapidly: in 2015, 42 percent of bees living in the United States died from an unknown disease. Therefore, scientists come up with various ways to combat the reduction of vegetation: for example, here you can read about a small pollinator drone.