Sunday, 17 May 2009


Greenfingers' intriguing blog about horse chestnut flowers changing colour after pollination ( set me thinking about which other flowers leave tell-tale signs that they've been visited. Gorse sprang to mind and so I had a closer look today while smelling a fabulous show of blossom at Ford Moss, in North Northumberland.
The left hand flower above remains untouched but the one on the right has been had. As the bee pushes its way into the flower, the trigger is released and the bee gets zapped with pollen. Clever stuff. Question is.. how does this spring mechanism work?


  1. Hi Nyctalus, I think most of the legumes have a pollination mechanism where the stamens and stigma are confined ina boat-shaped keel petal at the bottom of the flower and are released by the weight of the polliating insect. I suspect only the insect heavyweights can trigger the explosive mechanism in gorse and broom. Lupin and broad bean flowers have a less violent mechanism, where the weight of the insect depressing the keel petal squeezes out the pollen from the tip of the petal, like toothpaste from a tube...

  2. Hi Greenfingers and thanks for responding. I suppose then that the spring tension in the pea family stamens and stigma arises from the fact that they grow curved but trapped against the upper wall of the petal enclosure? Bee splits the petal open and ping..job done.