Pollination Primers

What are Pollination Primers?

Flowers inspire you and me. Millions of avid gardeners around the world now spend every moment of spare time tending their flowers (and think of the money spent).

While some of us live for flowers, flowers certainly don't exist for us. They exist to lure pollinators—the bees, butterflies, flies, bats, birds and many other animals that facilitate sexual reproduction.

Flowers are the reproductive organs of a plant. When the insect lands on the flower and searches for nectar and pollen to eat, tiny pollen pieces on the anther—the male part of a flower - stick to the body of the insect. When the insect goes to another flower, some of that pollen sticks to that flower's stigma—the female part of the flower.

That pollen then fertilizes the ovules which leads to seed production.

Flowers are Pollination Primers!

Mixed flowers

The Real Purpose of Flowers:

From the beginning of time, flowers were created to facilitate the work of pollinators, from color and scent to petal design and bloom time.

Yes, Pollination Primers.

Smells attract certain pollinators, while a certain color may attract another.

Still yet, Creation has Created certain flowers with special
Pollination Primers to attract certain pollinators.

Lilies have ridged petals to guide bees to the nectar-rich center; concentric rings on blanket flowers create a target focused on the nectar; zinnias and butterfly weeds have flat topped clusters of flowers to attract butterflies; delphiniums have a special petal that serves as a landing platform for bees.

Flowers that are trumpet shaped and have little or no smell attract hummingbirds and not bees.

Flowers that bloom only at night offer Pollination Primers of white or light colored flowers and often these blooms offer a very strong aroma (sweet or stinky) to attract creatures of the night.

Let's look more closely at one example of an insect and flower partnership: monkshoods (Aconitum spp.) and bumblebees. Monkshoods are entirely dependent upon bumblebees for pollination.

They are also beautifully created to a bumblebee's needs.

As the name suggests, the petal-like sepals of each monkshood blossom form a hood-like cover concealing two long spurs with huge nectar-filled nectaries at the end.

These nectar loads can only be reached by the long tongues of bumblebees. And when the bumblebee enters the blossom, it must walk over the male (pollen covered anther) and female (sticky stigma) parts of the flower.

This pollinator is a must.

Pacific blue lupine

Without a visit from a powerful bumblebee, monkshood would be unable to set seed and reproduce.

Look closely at some of the flowers in your yard and you may see Pollination Primers, the specialized ways in which the flower attracts pollinators.

Nature and Creation at its finest:

Thousands of different species help plants pollinate, from bees, butterflies and ants to bats and birds.

Bees are the world's workhorse pollinators, with over 40,000 different species worldwide and more than 5,000 in the United States and Canada alone. They carry and deliver pollen grains to more flowering plants than any other group. And bees are well adapted to this task. Their hind legs are hairy to hold pollen. Some species also have special sacs on their legs which hold pollen.

Bumblebee with pollen

Bees are able to visit hundreds of flowers in one day searching for nectar and pollen. They are especially attracted to brightly colored yellow and blue flowers with a sweet fragrance. Some bees will land on tube shaped flowers and crawl inside.

Pollination Primers:

So many of the new cultivars are bred to remove many of these Primers from the flower.

Double blooms now make it difficult for pollinators to do their job.

Scent may be sacrificed for a brighter color or longer lasting bloom.

Attractive features have been removed (Primers) in favor of a plant that is bred to be disease resistant. To me, this seems short term smart and long term done.

With proper design and planning, you can offer plants with Valuable Primers to a host insects, birds and other critters.

Planting Native and 'Gardening For Wildlife' at its best.

Pollination Primers, Return to the Top of this Page


Pollinators Main Page

Protecting Pollinators

Some Bees Have Pollen Sacs

Bumble Bees

Orchard Mason Bees

Leafcutter Bees

Ground Bees

Squash Bees

Honey Bees






Birds, bees, Butterflies, Gardens and more.

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