Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Protogenous Hermaphrodite

Miami has so many varieties of flora that they can be used as diversion from cities and buildings and many others subjects for photography. Keeping a good balance is sometime difficult. Without having to leave my backyard, here is today's photo of an Anthurium, which most likely is a hybrid of A. Andreanum or A. Scherzerianum.

The bright red part is called a spathe, which is a showy modified bract. The flowers are small (about a few millimeters) that spiral around a fleshy spike called a spadix. They are protogenous, which means each flower begins as a female and later becomes the male counterpart. For this reason, early pollination can only be by cross pollination as the flowers on the same spadix are all female at the beginning.

In this photo, the female pistillate stage has recessed to the upper part of the spadix and the rest of the flowers in the lower part are males. The process begun from the base of the spadix and progressed up the axis so today's photo shows the male flowers starting from the base all carrying pollen. While they are female, the flowers secrete drops of stigmas awaiting pollen from a nearby male flower. Since I am not really familiar with how this really works, I can only guess if a female flower is impregnated by an insect or by wind (you can see lots of pollen fallen on the spathe,) she will be very lonely later on when surrounded by all the other male guys! Isn't nature wonderful?

Pollinate Me Not

1 comment:

zentmrs said...

I've always thought these were very interesting flowers. Nice shot!