Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's complicated

The iris is a flower that goes to a lot of trouble to attract and accommodate pollinating insects. The colorful upper petals, called the standard, is designed to convince insects that Café Nectar is open for business. The lower petals, called the falls, act as a landing pad. Bright lines on the surface of the falls lead to the interior where the nectar is stashed. A strip of brightly colored follicles, appropriately called the beard, provides an insect with something to grip on its way in.

The stamen is located at the entrance to a “tunnel” leading to a small pool of nectar. As the insect nears the nectar pool, it collects pollen on its back from the “ceiling” of the tunnel. The stamen is designed as a one-way pollen collector – as the insect backs out of the tunnel, the stamen blocks its own pollen from itself. When an insect arrives from another iris and makes its way into the tunnel, the stamen collects the pollen from the insect’s body.

Sort of like God’s Rube Goldberg machine.

Photo blogging: More on the misconception that photographers are dangerous.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.


jose said...

You´re right. It seems so complicated.

Wanda said...

A lot of things that are beautiful are complicated ~~ including people.

You are also a good teacher. Learned a lot from your blog.