Monday, August 23, 2021
A Sub-optimal Pollinator
Honey Bees and the Datura spp of the New World did not evolve together, though there are Datura spp in Eurasia where the HBs originated. Still, the architecture of the long-throated flower, it's mostly night-blooming ways and its color point to moths as it's pollinators, and among these, the 'long-tongued' Sphinx moths are the obvious candidates. But then, if you catch a Honey Bee you may get pollinated anyway! On its way in, to get nectar, the bee passed the loaded pollen sacs, and while it fights to escape the entrapment by the slippery walls of the narrow throat it probably comes in contact with the critical parts of the stigma. So pollination may happen. Speculation: Does the bee seem unusually clumsy? Did the alcaloids of the plant give it a buzz that may make it stumble around the floral sex organs just a little longer? I cannot find conclusive data about the effect of those phytochemicals on the neural system of insects This is Datura discolor, one of three species in the Tucson area. They are only now starting to bloom, while the Datura wrightii (sometimes called sacred datura) has been blooming for a couple months or more. D. discolor has the purple throat markings, D. wrightii is white.