Gladiolus and their pollinators

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 16 Nov 2002 19:10:31 PST
Dear All,

There is a really interesting article in the Oct-Dec issue of Pacific Horticulture entitled, "Radiation and Floral Adaptation in Gladiolus" written by Peter Goldblatt and John Manning complete with five color photographs. In the article the authors describe many of the different characteristics of the flowers of different species in Southern Africa and describe how their flowers attract many of the different pollinators butterflies, long-proboscid flies, moths, sunbirds and bees. They speculate that because many of the flowers are in bloom at the same time and pollinated by bees and there wouldn't be enough bees that the species with the most striking flowers or distinctive shapes, colors, or scents would be the ones most likely to be visited (bees pollinate about 55% of the species). As for the others, floral diversity is not so important and they must conform to the characteristic pattern that draws the pollinators to them which can be shape of the flower or scent for example.

When I read an article like this one I always wonder about whether new pollinators will discover these flowers when we plant them in our gardens in another country. Blooming today in my garden was Gladiolus priorii. Last week I spied one last Gladiolus carmineus in bloom which means I have had flowers off and on of that species since late August. I expect it must have quite a few pollinators here in northern California because I always have abundant seed and at the same time that flower was blooming seed pods were splitting open.

Mary Sue 

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