In the Alcatraz Gardens, located in California (United States), a rigorous study of twelve native plants has been carried out. Its leaves have been observed twice a week, flowers, fruits, seeds, … A group of researchers was in charge of each part of the plant.
One of the plants that have been studied has been the Baccharis pilularis.
Gardeners enjoy plants, taking care of them, preventing them from any disease or plague, or trying to heal it if it has already been the victim of an insect or fungus, either because we expect it to bear fruit, or simply because we want to. For those scientists who are dedicated to researching the phenology of the plant, that is, the study of each part of the plant, the results may not appear until several months later having started this task.
In the case of the Alcatraz gardens they realized something amazing: they have two female plants and two male plants of Baccharis pilularis! Which means that the plant itself cannot reproduce.
There are many people who know that the vast majority of plants on Earth today have flowers. However, there are also many who are unaware that there are a good number of plants that have female and male parts in the same flower, and even more may not realize that some only have a single gender.
Baccharis pilularis is one of the plants that has male flowers in specimens other than those with female flowers. It is what is known as a plant dioecious.
What is the difference between one and the other?
The difference between male flowers and female flowers is as follows: the male ones make pollen, and the female ones open to expose the stigma.
How is the pollination process?
Bees and other pollinating insects go to male flowers for pollen and soak up it. They then go to the female flowers to make a pollen “delivery”. The flowers are so well designed that the insect often has to put itself in forced positions if it wants to drink pollen or nectar, and there are also many times that, literally, end up drenched in pollen. Thus, when they reach the female flowers, it is not difficult for the plant to obtain the pollen it needs, and thus be pollinated.
After this process, the female plant can begin to create a wonder of nature: the seed, which once mature can be dispersed by the wind. And in Alcatraz there is a lot!
The researchers found that female plants bloomed just after male plants. In addition, they were in different places on the island, which is a great advantage if you need the help of the wind to be able to continue propagating the species.
Are there more dioecious plants?
Of course. The best known are: Ginkgo biloba, Holly, Blackberries, Kiwis, numerous palm trees, … Knowing this will help many gardeners to better design gardens and / or orchards. Plants always amaze us.
More information – Flowering plants: older than previously thought
Source – Gardens of Alcatraz