Pollination mechanism

The pollination mechanism employed by a plant depends on what method of pollination is utilized. Most flowers can be divided between two broad groups of pollination methods: Entomophilous: flowers attract and use insects, bats, birds or other animals to transfer pollen from one flower to the next. Often they are specialized in shape and have an arrangement of the stamens that ensures that pollen grains are transferred to the bodies of the pollinator when it lands in search of its attractant (such as nectar, pollen, or a mate). In pursuing this attractant from many flowers of the same species, the pollinator transfers pollen to the stigmas—arranged with equally pointed precision—of all of the flowers it visits. Many flowers rely on simple proximity between flower parts to ensure pollination. Others, such as the Sarracenia or lady-slipper orchids, have elaborate designs to ensure pollination while preventing self-pollination. A grass flower head (Meadow Foxtail) showing the plain coloured flowers with large anthers. Anemophilous: flowers use the wind to move pollen from one flower to the next, examples include the grasses, Birch trees, Ragweed and Maples. They have no need to attract pollinators and therefore tend not to be "showy" flowers. Whereas the pollen of entomophilous flowers tends to be large-grained, sticky, and rich in protein (another "reward" for pollinators), anemophilous flower pollen is usually small-grained, very light, and of little nutritional value to insects, though it may still be gathered in times of dearth. Honeybees and bumblebees actively gather anemophilous corn (maize) pollen, though it is of little value to them. Some flowers are self-pollinated and use flowers that never open or are self-pollinated before the flowers open, thes

flowers are called cleistogamous. Many Viola species and some Salvia have these types of flowers. Self-pollination is a form of pollination that can occur when a flower has both stamen and a carpel (pistil) in which the cultivar or species is self fertile and the stamens and the sticky stigma of the carpel contact each other in order to accomplish pollination. The term is inaccurately used in many cases where an outside pollinator is actually required; such plants are merely self-fertile, or self pollenizing. Few plants actually self-pollinate. The mechanism is seen most often in some legumes such as peanuts. In another legume, soybeans, the flowers open and remain receptive to insect cross pollination during the day. If this is not accomplished, the flowers self-pollinate as they are closing. Other plants that can self-pollinate are many kinds of orchids, peas, sunflowers, tridax, etc. Most of the self-pollinating plants have small, relatively inconspicuous flowers that shed pollen directly onto the stigma, sometimes even before the bud opens. Self-pollinated plants expend less energy in the production of pollinator attractants and can grow in areas where the kinds of insects or other animals that might visit them are absent or very scarce—as in the Arctic or at high elevations. Self-pollination limits the variety of progeny and may depress plant vigor. However, self-pollination can be advantageous, allowing plants to spread beyond the range of suitable pollinators or produce offspring in areas where pollinator populations have been greatly reduced or are naturally variable. Pollination can also be accomplished by cross-pollination. Cross-pollination is the transfer of pollen, either by wind or insect, from the anther to the stigma between different flowers.