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Mike's Blog - Day 83

The giant Amazonian lily (planted Day 2) looks like it’s going to flower - tonight!

The flower is white on its first night and gets pollinated by the night time flying beetles, they can spot (and smell) the scented white flowers easily in the moonlight. The beetles will be coming laden with pollen from flowers that have flowered on the previous nights. They settle into the white flowers for the nectar, but the flower closes up again at dawn, trapping the beetle. Its flapping about helps to spread the pollen in the flower.

The following night, now that the flower is pollinated, it sheds pollen onto the beetle and releases it. The beetles fly off into the night and soon spot the new white flowers. The flower that has been pollinated now turns pink, effectively invisible in the moonlight, not wanting to attract pollen laden beetles as it doesn’t need them.

Anyway, Sir David Attenborough can explain it better than me:


Lots of things go on at night in nature, it’s almost another world. A few evenings ago Professor Steve Willis from the Biological Science departments set up a moth trap by the magnesian limestone bed in the garden. He had a successful night and identified a range of moths with names such as “Heart and Dart”, “Silver-ground Carpet”, “Iron Prominent”, “White-pinion Spotted” and “Pale tussock”. Here are pictures of respectively “Green Carpet” and “Flame Shoulder”.