Saturday, April 26, 2014

Reproductive Parts

These transplanted arbutus plants have been receiving multiple visits each day as we impatiently wait for open flowers.  Recent days have been cool and wet and the buds are slow to open under those conditions.  Still, there are blossoms that are open and ready for inspection now.  This show will run for days and better pictures may be taken in the near future.

Visible ovaries identify this as a female flower.  Five tan colored structures that resemble grains of wheat are located in the base of the open flower.  Numerous white hairs line the cavity above the ovaries.  Today, water droplets from the rain also hang from the petals.  Mrs. William Starr Dana describes arbutus flowers as having ten ovaries.  That would indicate that each tan structure is made up of twin ovaries.  If we ever get to examine a seed pod, the matter may become more clear.  We also noticed that the female flowers were surrounded by more intense scent than the nearby male flowers.

The pale green circle in the center of this flower is the tip of the anther.  A side view would reveal its rod like shape but how does one get the camera inside of the flower?  Plans were to gather pollen on a small fine brush and have a go at bringing it to the ovaries.  Today, examination with a loupe did not reveal the presence of any pollen. We will check again tomorrow.

These were expected to be our from seed daughter plant's first flowers.  These two do not look anything like any of the other buds but they do not look dead either.  Perhaps arbutus has three different types of flowers. These may be self pollinating flowers similar to the near the ground violet flowers that produce a multitude of seeds.  These will definitely be under a close daily watch.

For now, lying on the rocky ground with noses buried deeply in the plants marks one of the high points of our entire gardening year. Gathering numerous deep breaths of this sweet scent will have to create an experience that will last us for the entire coming year.

The following photo and text were added June 13, 2014, in an attempt to correct our published incorrect information.  We never claimed to know what we are doing but we sure enjoy the struggle to correctly learn.

Now that seed clusters have formed, we can possibly correctly identify the two different genders of flowers.  It appears that we were dead wrong on what we posted here.  The long cylindrical structure extending from the center of the seed berry served as a pollen collector.  Its tip was the stigma, the long tube the style and the ovary lies buried deep at the base of the former flower.  It should have been identified as the female flower.

The five tan structures at the base of the other flowers must then be stamens.  We did not look long enough to see the formation of pollen.  These tiny forms positioned at the base of a hairy tunnel are difficult to inspect or photograph.  Next year we will endeavor to examine these flowers over several consecutive days and record the progression of the flower moving to sexual maturity.  For now, I will leave the photos that show me brushing the female flower first and transferring the collected treasure to the male parts.  No seed followed that activity.  If plants can laugh, I must have given them a roar.

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