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 Photo shows a person knocking a cloud of pollen from a pine tree.
A person knocks pollen from a pine tree.
 Photo A shows the long, thin flower male of the white willow, which has long, hair-like appendages jutting out all along its length. Photo  B shows the female flower from the same plant. The shape is similar, but the hair-like appendages are missing.
These male (a) and female (b) catkins are from the goat willow tree ( Salix caprea ). Note how both structures are light and feathery to better disperse and catch the wind-blown pollen.

Pollination by water

Some weeds, such as Australian sea grass and pond weeds, are pollinated by water. The pollen floats on water, and when it comes into contact with the flower, it is deposited inside the flower.

Evolution connection

Pollination by deception

Orchids are highly valued flowers, with many rare varieties ( [link] ). They grow in a range of specific habitats, mainly in the tropics of Asia, South America, and Central America. At least 25,000 species of orchids have been identified.

 Photos depict an orchid with a bright yellow center and white petals.
Certain orchids use food deception or sexual deception to attract pollinators. Shown here is a bee orchid ( Ophrys apifera ). (credit: David Evans)

Flowers often attract pollinators with food rewards, in the form of nectar. However, some species of orchid are an exception to this standard: they have evolved different ways to attract the desired pollinators. They use a method known as food deception, in which bright colors and perfumes are offered, but no food. Anacamptis morio , commonly known as the green-winged orchid, bears bright purple flowers and emits a strong scent. The bumblebee, its main pollinator, is attracted to the flower because of the strong scent—which usually indicates food for a bee—and in the process, picks up the pollen to be transported to another flower.

Other orchids use sexual deception. Chiloglottis trapeziformis emits a compound that smells the same as the pheromone emitted by a female wasp to attract male wasps. The male wasp is attracted to the scent, lands on the orchid flower, and in the process, transfers pollen. Some orchids, like the Australian hammer orchid, use scent as well as visual trickery in yet another sexual deception strategy to attract wasps. The flower of this orchid mimics the appearance of a female wasp and emits a pheromone. The male wasp tries to mate with what appears to be a female wasp, and in the process, picks up pollen, which it then transfers to the next counterfeit mate.

Double fertilization

After pollen is deposited on the stigma, it must germinate and grow through the style to reach the ovule. The microspores, or the pollen, contain two cells: the pollen tube cell and the generative cell. The pollen tube cell grows into a pollen tube through which the generative cell travels. The germination of the pollen tube requires water, oxygen, and certain chemical signals. As it travels through the style to reach the embryo sac, the pollen tube’s growth is supported by the tissues of the style. In the meantime, if the generative cell has not already split into two cells, it now divides to form two sperm cells. The pollen tube is guided by the chemicals secreted by the synergids present in the embryo sac, and it enters the ovule sac through the micropyle. Of the two sperm cells, one sperm fertilizes the egg cell, forming a diploid zygote; the other sperm fuses with the two polar nuclei, forming a triploid cell that develops into the endosperm    . Together, these two fertilization events in angiosperms are known as double fertilization    ( [link] ). After fertilization is complete, no other sperm can enter. The fertilized ovule forms the seed, whereas the tissues of the ovary become the fruit, usually enveloping the seed.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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