Monday, 9 September 2013

Hollyhock's Sticky Pollen

or Vice Versa?

I noticed recently that the bumblebees were smothering the hollyhocks and really getting covered in pollen. We have a south facing brick wall and grew our hollyhocks from seed last summer and overwintered them on top of the outdoor boiler. We planted them out this spring and after a slow start they relished the warm weather and towered. 

Looking at the photograph I could see a lot of large round pollen had stuck on the bee. 

I thought this would be a great start to viewing pollen and other plants with a microscope.  I collected some pollen, soaked them in ethanol and then stained them yellow.

Turning the lamp right down gave the the orange effect from below and because the pollen was stained yellow it turned into a lovely green colour when viewed with a high power microscope.

Each pollen grain then revealed its beautiful design. A round grain with a number of spikes. The pollen is quite sticky anyway and with spikes probably ensures that it sticks to any insect that cares to enter the inner sanctuary of the flower.

I find it amazing that nature has so much beauty and has evolved in many different ways to ensure the survival of many species we see around us.

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