The Hostage Taking Flower – Ceropegia

11 Oct

Nature never ceases to amaze me. It is everything – imaginative, creative, adaptable, beautiful, unique but most of all it’s always full of surprises. Whenever I think I have seen the best of it, it springs another amazing sight at me. The latest was the hostage taking flowers of Ceropegia in Kaas.Β As a botany student in school, I had learnt about numerous ways that plants employ for pollination, with the main method being via pollinating agents. And the best pollinating agents are insects. Hence it’s not surprising that various plants have devised various techniques to attract these insects through – color, scent, stench and designs. But the hostage taking flowers are unique. These flowers take insects as hostage and only release them once pollination and fertilization is complete.

Ceropegia vincaefolia, Kaas

Ceropegia vincaefolia, Kaas

Per Sandeep Shrotri’s book – “Kaas Plateau of Flowers” – there are 200 species of Ceropegia worldwide, 70 different species in peninsular India, of which 20 are in the Sahyadris. These plants are creepers or shrubs and are not insectivorous. These flowers have a tubular corolla with five petals most often fused at the tips and forming a cage or a canopy. These flowers are also lined with small hair that point downward to form a temporary trap for small insects. Small insects (mainly flies) are attracted to these flowers by the scent and the flowers’ top opening allows these select insects to enter. Once an insect enters it is trapped in the long tubular structure via the stiff unidirectional hair. The more it tries to escape the more it gets pulled towards the bulb at the bottom of the flower, where the exchange of pollen takes place. Once the transfer is done, the flower loses its stiffness and droops, thereby letting the insect escape.

Ceropegia flowers, Kaas

Ceropegia flowers, Kaas

A close-up of the flower, Ceropegia, Kaas

A close-up of the flower, Ceropegia, Kaas

These flowers are found in Kaas and hence a trip to Kaas to catch a glimpse of these flowers is a must. πŸ™‚

Have you come across any such interesting pollinating techniques in flowers? If yes, do comment below or tweet at traveler_budget. πŸ™‚

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11 Responses to “The Hostage Taking Flower – Ceropegia”

  1. Ekta Khetan (@NumeroUnity) October 18, 2013 at 16:00 #

    Beautiful Clicks. Really loved your scaping and click!
    Cheers!

    http://www.hautekutir.com

    Like

  2. sindhoooo October 18, 2013 at 16:45 #

    Ceropegia! Wonderful pictures and notes! Is that a fertilised flower in the last photograph?

    Like

    • getsetandgo October 26, 2013 at 11:51 #

      Thanks… Nah, thats how the flower is πŸ™‚

      Like

      • sindhoooo October 29, 2013 at 15:01 #

        Oh! Thanks for the info πŸ™‚

        Like

  3. paresh Kale October 18, 2013 at 20:01 #

    Rare ones. I can imagine the delight to capture one at Kaas.

    Like

  4. Desi Traveler October 19, 2013 at 22:41 #

    Interesting and I learned something absolutely new today.

    Like

    • getsetandgo October 26, 2013 at 11:51 #

      Thanks and thats one objective of the blog achieved πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. kebhari.com November 4, 2013 at 12:50 #

    Nice photos and flowers

    Like

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