Plumeria Seed Pollination and Pollinators

Growing Plumeria from Seeds > Plumeria Seed Pollination and Pollinators

Plumeria Pollination

All living organisms have one major goal in common, which is to pass along their genetic information to the next generation by creating offspring. Flowering plants create seeds, which carry the genetic information of the parents and develop into a new plant. In order for seeds to be created, a process called pollination must occur.

Pollination is when pollen grains from an anther, the male portion of a flower, are transferred to a female part in the flower, known as the stigma. In order for pollination to be successful, the pollen grains transferred must be from a flower of the same species.

After the pollen grains land on the stigma, they create a pollen tube through the length of the style or stalk connecting the stigma and ovary. Once the pollen tube is complete, the pollen grain will send sperm cells from the grain down to the ovary. When the sperm cells reach the ovary and the egg cells, fertilization will occur, which will result in the formation of the seed. The seed will then be released from the parent plant and will be able to grow into a plant and continue the reproductive cycle using the method of pollination.

The Pollination Process

The male and female parts of a plant are the key elements in pollination. The male parts include the anther and filament, which together are called the stamen. The stamen produces the pollen. The female parts are the stigma, the style, and the ovary at the base of the flower, which together are called the carpel.

When we think of pollination, we might just think of bees visiting flower after flower. But, bees aren’t the only way flowers are pollinated. Let’s look at some of the other ways this can happen.During pollination, the pollen grains from the stamen (male parts) get stuck on the stigma (female part), which is sticky for this very reason. A pollen tube grows down the side of the style and transports the male sperm nuclei to the ovule. Fertilization occurs when the nuclei fuses with the female ovules in the ovary of the flower. These ovules develop into seeds, and the ovary develops into fruit to protect the seed. In some plants, only one seed develops, such as an avocado or a peach. In others, lots and lots of seeds are developed, like in tomatoes.

Forms of Pollination

Plumeria have both male and female parts on the same plant. Individual plants with flowers having both male and female reproductive parts are called hermaphorditic. This is where a plant pollinates itself, and it is called self-pollination. 

Self-pollination is the more basic type of pollination because it only involves one flower. This type of pollination occurs when pollen grains from the anther fall directly onto the stigma of the same flower. Although this type of pollination is simple and quick, it does result in a reduction in genetic diversity because the sperm and egg cells of the same flower share genetic information. Self-pollination can be achieved by nature or by humans.

There are two other ways a plumeria may be considered to be self-pollinated

  • The pollen is transferred by insects or human to another flower on the same plant. 
  • The plant self-pollinates before the flower opens and the flower may not open at all.

Cross-pollination is a more complex type of pollination that involves the transfer of pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of a different flower on a different plumeria. This type of pollination results in an increase in genetic diversity because the different flowers are sharing and mixing their genetic information to create unique offspring.

The pollination process itself is the same, but the manner of pollen transport is different. The majority of pollination is performed by biotic (living) pollination, where living things assist in transporting the pollen from one plant to another. The pollinator is the mover of pollen. Only 20 percent of plant pollination is by abiotic (nonliving), methods such as wind or water.

The pollinator believed to aid in the pollination of plumeria are , phenix moths, thrips and tiny ants.

What Are Plumeria Pollinators?

Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species? Enter the pollinators. Pollinators are insects of specific types that visit Plumeria flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate.

The Lure of Nectar

In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plumeria plants. You have likely enjoyed the scent of a plumeria. But did you know that the beautiful perfumes and lovely views we associate with spring were actually designed to attract insects?

Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar. Their smell and bright petals are kind of like a neon sign advertising ‘Fresh Nectar!’ to any passing bug. In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit. Pollen is like the sperm of plants – it’s the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.

The insects that are enticed by the perfume of the Plumeria or by its beautiful colors are known as pollinators. They visit flower after flower, sipping on the nectar and picking up or depositing pollen. This mutual relationship benefits both the plumeria and the pollinators.

Insect Pollinators

Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals. But the Plumeria have very few actual pollinators. Pollinators are often adapted to pollinate specific plants and have a hard time visiting other flowers. A number of insects are specially adapted for gathering pollen and nectar from plants.

Sphinx moths: Sphinx moths are uniquely adapted to the plumeria’s very long flower throat.

Thrips: Their small size allows them to travel down into the throat of the Plumeria. Thrips are minute (most are 1 mm long or less), slender insects with fringed wings and unique asymmetrical mouthparts. Different thrips species feed mostly on plants by puncturing and sucking up the contents, although a few are predators. Approximately 6,000 species have been described. They fly only weakly and their feathery wings are unsuitable for conventional flight; instead, thrips exploit an unusual mechanism, clap and fling, to create lift using an unsteady circulation pattern with transient vortices near the wings.

Possibly Tiny Ants.