As part of our Freaky Nature season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants. Freak out with our strange facts: you’ll never look at plants in the same way again!
Flowers are a plant’s sex organs,and also work like fancy party clothes and perfume, with bright colours and lovely scents to help them reproduce. Flowers contain pollen and tiny eggs called ovules. Pollinators, like bees, are attracted to the flowers. After pollination of the flower and fertilisation of the ovule, the ovule develops into a fruit.
Now you know the basics, here are some freaky flower facts:
- The orphium flower from South Africa is pollinated by a certain bee. It only releases its pollen when it feels the vibration provided by the note ‘middle C’. The bee’s wings change frequency to vibrate at middle C when they get to the flower.
- No species of wild plant produces a flower or blossom that is absolutely black, and so far, none has been developed artificially.
- When you tickle the African hemp flower it opens out in front your eyes.
- Some flowers have runway lines to guide pollinating insects in.
- A catkin on a birch tree produces around five million pollen grains. It needs loads as it’s a bit of a hit or miss affair.
- Pollinating insects are rewarded with pollen and/or nectar. Nectar contains more sugar than cola drinks and keeps those insects buzzing! Honey is a sort of regurgitated nectar.
- Some plant insect relationships are very specific. When Darwin was shown the beautiful orchid Angraecum sesquipedale from Madagascar, he noted the foot-long tube at the back of the flower with nectar at the bottom and predicted that a moth with a tongue at least a foot long would be needed to pollinate it. Several years after Darwin’s death, a moth was discovered in Madagascar with a tongue exactly one foot long! There’s a model of this moth in the biodiversity greenhouse, in Eden’s Core building.
- Some flowers are male and female (hermaphrodite), some have different sex flowers on the same plant, some have different sex flowers on different plants. It’s all to do with trying to get plants to cross-pollinate to produce variety so they can evolve.
- One of the smelliest flowers is the titan arum (Amorphophallus titanium). They smell like a rotting animal, grow up to 3m tall and sometimes we are lucky enough to get one to flower in our Rainforest Biome: have a look at this video…