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. 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.
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.
These flowers are found in Kaas and hence a trip to Kaas to catch a glimpse of these flowers is a must. 🙂
Have you come across any such interesting pollinating techniques in flowers? If yes, do comment below or tweet at traveler_budget. 🙂