Plantwatch: the plants that kill their insect pollinators | Science

There are two plant species with essentially the most brutal flowers on the earth, which intentionally kill their insect pollinators. The flowers of jack-in the pulpit, Arisaema angustatum, and its shut relative Arisaema peninsulae are hidden inside a bowl-shaped wrapper with a slender entrance, with a tall hood standing above. The floral dungeon lures in male fungus gnats, probably by imitating the horny scent of feminine gnats to idiot the males into discovering a mate.

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When the vegetation are small they solely develop male flowers, which cowl the gnats in pollen. The floral jail is simply too slippery for the gnats to climb out of, and their solely escape is thru a tiny gap within the chamber, earlier than they’ll fly off and fall for a similar trick on one other plant. However because the vegetation develop bigger, they develop feminine flowers and the escape gap closes and so gnats falling into the floral jail now grow to be nicely and really imprisoned. As they desperately attempt to escape they smother the feminine flowers with pollen, however with no escape route and no meals, the gnats finally die – fairly probably the cruellest cross-pollination technique of any identified flower.

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