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By ChefDean
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Joined:  Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:44 am
#417947
I just harvested the first of my Sarr seeds today from my S. alata (Stone Co., MS).
They are OP, but they were under netting with no other flowers close, so they're probably x self. However, without knowing for sure, they'll be listed as OP.
I think there looks to be enough for five packs, so they'll go into the seed bank to be immediately available to all eligible members.
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By NightRaider
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#417948
Tangential question but I was under the impression sarrs needed to be manually pollinated. With us being this close to their native range though, I'm guessing their native pollinators are still around to do it themselves? I didn't pollinate mine this spring so I haven't thought to be checking for seeds, but I did leave them alone all this time so I may need to keep an eye out when they start to brown.
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By ChefDean
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#417950
There are pollinators everywhere, they just need to be attracted to the flower. It doesn't necessarily need a native pollinator unless it's evolved very specific structures that only one or two critters can access.
In my area, it's the little carpenter bees that do a great deal of pollinating, and a lot of them get fall prey to the pitchers too.
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By NightRaider
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#417953
ChefDean wrote:It doesn't necessarily need a native pollinator unless it's evolved very specific structures that only one or two critters can access.
That was the impression I was under, since everything I'd read up until now had said the flowers had evolved to be specifically pollinated by certain species of bees.

For example, take this excerpt from carnivorousplants.org:
The very elaborate flowers do not self pollinate. They need certain species of bumblebees for pollination services. In many areas, there are no pollinators that know how to work the flowers or the plants bloom too early for there to be any pollinators around. If you don't pollinate the flowers yourself, it will not happen and you will not get any seeds. This can actually be good when you are doing crosses. You will not need to bag flower to keep them from being pollinated naturally. However, if you do have bumblebees that pollinate the flowers, you will need to bag flowers with a mesh bag if you want to make specific crosses.
This led me to a research article regarding pollination of S. alata that had essentially the same conclusion.
Xylocopa spp. [carpenter bees] were observed to visit S. alata flowers. Although specimens approximate Bombus bimaculatus in size, we never observed these bees entering flowers. Quite to the contrary, these bees were observed to cut slits in the flower petals at the bases, allowing them to forage for nectar from the outside of the corolla ("nectar robbing" [Kearns and Thomson 2001]). Other species of bees (including A. mellifera) and wasps were also observed feeding via these slits.
Regarding honeybees, I won't quote the actual text because it's egregiously long, but the gist was that while they often followed a route that would lead to pollen deposition on the stigma, they were too small to gather pollen to begin with and therefore were ineffective as pollinators.
The article eventually concluded that bumblebees were the primary pollinators as they were the only ones that were both large enough to consistently gather pollen as well as regularly followed the correct route through the flower to deposit pollen on a stigma. It called out Bombus bimaculatus specifically, which seems to be a common species across the eastern half of the continent and could pretty easily be confused with carpenter bees based on appearance, but I didn't see anything in the article that seemed to imply other Bombus species native to the same range as Sarracenia wouldn't fill the same role.
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By ChefDean
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#417958
I've heard a lot of that before as well.
This particular one was under tree netting because it's still in LFSM, and I didn't want the birds to uproot it this year while robbing nest materials. It's not a really tight mesh, so it's possible that a bumblebee could have forced it's way in, I'm leaning towards the small carpenter bees just because we had so many this spring. They ended up being the main food source for many of my plants, with more than a few Sarr pitchers having (estimated) more than 50% of the mass down their gullet being those little guys.
But, whichever critter decided to help the plant reproduce, the result is still the same; seeds to spread around.
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By steve booth
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Joined:  Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:15 am
#417959
I have hundreds of plants outdoors and left to their own devices, they do get pollinated in the main but not always. Generally by bees of various kinds, but it is in theory possible for a plant to self itself via wind and small insects, the pollen collects in the style and can be blown onto the stigmas or carried by crawling arthropods.

Cheers
Steve
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By Panman
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#417961
Honestly, I've never had any luck with my sarrs pollinating themselves. I've always had to help them along by dragging some pollen out and onto the stigma.
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By optique
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#417962
I feel like all mine pollinate on there own.
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By NightRaider
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#417973
ChefDean wrote:It's not a really tight mesh, so it's possible that a bumblebee could have forced it's way in, I'm leaning towards the small carpenter bees just because we had so many this spring. They ended up being the main food source for many of my plants, with more than a few Sarr pitchers having (estimated) more than 50% of the mass down their gullet being those little guys.
Not that it really matters in the wider context here, and I could be wrong, but I wonder if you may be confusing carpenter bees with a smaller type of bee. Carpenters are nearly indistinguishable from most bumblebees common in TN in both size and appearance, the main difference simply being whether their abdomen is smooth (carpenter) or fuzzy (bumblebee). Mine fill up with what looks to be mainly sweatbees and hoverflies, but I've never looked super closely so it may be at least partially another type of small bee instead like mason or miner bees. The only sarr I've ever had catch a carpenter or bumblebee was a rosea x flava hybrid with a huge mouth, and it stands to reason a carpenter bee would have no trouble nor qualms about just chewing its way out of a trap since that's, well, what they do best.

I found this quote from Mike Wang interesting:
Here in Northern California, we rarely have insects or other animals pollinate Sarracenia flowers. Honey bees, bumble bees, and other insects are frequently found in the flowers, but for some reason, they don't end up pollinating them-probably because of their size.

However, if a hummingbird finds your plants, they're very effective at pollinating Sarracenia flowers. Interestingly, they only pollinated S. oreophila and a tub of flavas-perhaps nothing else was in bloom at the time. In the past 15 years, this has only happened once-outside of the hummingbird incident, my plants never produce seeds without hand pollination.
That said, I'm also seeing several people, including earlier in this thread, saying they get natural pollination in the UK (which doesn't seem to have any Bombus species in common with Sarracenia's native range) and one Australian report posted here a couple months back, though in that case the flowers were apparently much smaller than usual which I imagine would have made pollination by smaller bees more possible. Additionally, assuming the introduced populations of S. purpurea in the UK are reproducing by seed then they must be getting pollinated by something. Either way, it's just strange that some people would be getting consistent natural pollination while others never do, even in the same geographic regions. For my part, it looks like I may have as many as 2 out of 5 flowers pollinated, but I could be mistaken and it be none as well.
I also wonder if some of the pollinators that are being assumed here (carpenter bees, smaller bee species, flies, etc) are just being assumed to be doing the pollination since they're present on/near/in the flowers, but in reality aren't actually performing the pollination and instead it's being performed by certain species that may or may not be among these.
Anyway, this obviously isn't really a discussion for this particular subforum. I just had no idea that natural sarr pollination was such an unsettled topic, and apparently completely hit or miss for different people even in the same regions. I'll postulate that it may be due to a presence or lack of one or more specific pollinator species, which would explain a lack of pollination even inside known pollinator's ranges and when other types of bees are present, so long as those particular species simply weren't present at that specific site. In addition, I'll add what was said here to satisfy pollination in the UK in particular, that being that pollinating species may be limited but not necessarily to Bombus species present in Sarracenia's native range, and they may instead include other species, Bombus or otherwise. There's really no practical way to test this on a large scale without widespread, geographically-distributed cooperation though, so I'm in no way making a conclusion here, just stating that that's my hypothesis at this stage.
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By ChefDean
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#417986
I know the difference between a bumblebee and the Eastern carpenter bee, even a Miner bee, but I'm referring to the small carpenter bee, Ceratina spp. They're easily distinguishable from the Eastern if for no other characteristic than their size; 3/8 inch Ceratina vs 3/4 inch Eastern.
I'm not definitively saying that it was the Ceratina, but, due to how many there were this spring, and that they're known to be a very effective pollinator, I'm still leaning to them being the best possibility.
It's entirely possible that a bumblebee, a wasp, or a housefly made its way through the netting, it's even possible that the wind blew just right. While Sarrs are self compatible, they still need help getting tab A into slot B. All my other Sarrs are out in the open, so game on with those, but I'm leaning towards the Ceratina with them as well just because of the sheer numbers. So many in fact that my outdoor sundews were covered with them, most of my smaller VFT traps were closed, and most of the open pitchers were over half full of Ceratina.
Sarrs have definitely evolved to be more attractive to a critter that gives them a greater chance at a successful pollination, most plants have, but they haven't evolved to the point of exclusivity with pollinators like some single pollinator species have (figs or some species of orchids for example). They still court multiple species of pollinators to increase their chances of success in the event their first choice is unavailable that year for some reason. That you point out successful open pollination in the UK and Australia, locations where Sarracenia are not native, nor do they have a close relative, supports their versatility in pollinators.
Regardless of how it got pollinated, the result is still seeds being available to others who might want them, with more to come later in the season.
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By sundewd
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Joined:  Sat Jan 16, 2021 8:53 am
#418001
I see em wiggle in to get in there through the smallest gaps. Bees, flies, earwigs.
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By steve booth
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Joined:  Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:15 am
#418086
Is that the famous Eric the half a bee?

I have hundreds of Apis mellifera as there must be a hive somewhere nearby, plus several species of bumble bees, as well as flies moths and other possible pollinators, which ones accomplish the deed I don't know but they all visit the flowers and the pollination gets completed. Thre is a much higher rate of pollination outside than in the greenhouse. They also manage to pollinate Darlingtonis and I don't think that anyone is sure what pollinates them in the USA, but whatever it is has some sort of cousin over here in the UK.

Cheers
Steve
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By NightRaider
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#418095
steve booth wrote:They also manage to pollinate Darlingtonia and I don't think that anyone is sure what pollinates them in the USA, but whatever it is has some sort of cousin over here in the UK.
I read one field study on Darlingtonia as well, and it concluded it was a species of miner bee which collected pollen by climbing up the style once inside. It also said it was possible a small amount of pollination was occurring from spiders, as well. I couldn’t find much in the way of range information for the miner bee, but it seemed like they were found along the Appalachians and Rockies in the US, along the west coast, and across southern Canada. Obviously something else must be doing it over there though, maybe another species of miner bee or something else entirely.
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