Thursday, April 20, 2017

Best Trailing Arbutus Display Ever

As regular readers know for certain, Epigaea repens holds a prominent place in our gardening life.  Successful transplantation of this native treasure is rare but all of the plants in these photos were transplanted here.  We still have huge holes in our knowledge of arbutus but we continue to try and learn more about this plant from careful observation.

This is just one corner of our first attempt to transplant arbutus.  This display of open flowers is the most impressive that we have ever seen here.  Our point and shoot camera has problems with the color white.  Today the cloud cover was thick and rainfall was imminent.  Some combination of dim light and yesterday's rain made for great pictures today.

Despite the pretty pink coloration, this plant is male.  Five tan objects that resemble grains of wheat are positioned around the bottom of the hairy tube that connects the open petals with the base of the flower.  The depth of the tube also causes focus problems for the camera.  Some work is required to position a hand lens so that the desired part of the flower is in focus.  The hair like filaments that densely line the tube are somewhat clear resembling fishing line.  They add to the camera focusing difficulties.

In this picture the prime focus is on the filaments.  Beneath them is a green object that is opening like a five pointed star.  Yesterday it was tightly closed.  This organ captures pollen making this the female flower.  If new plants from seed grew here, we would consider our attempt to reintroduce this native jewel a success.  To date many seeds have been seen but no new plants followed.  The number of years between seed production and new plants from seed is not known to us.  We do know that this plant stringently follows its own schedule so we wait.

The petals of these older male blossoms are stained with blotches of brown.  They may be pollen stains.  Today for the first time, we saw a bumble bee working the open flowers.  It was quite comical to watch it force its large head deep to the bottom of the open flowers.  It is commonly suggested that ants pollinate arbutus flowers but we will add bumble bees to the list.  We did have a remote lone female plant develop seed last year and wondered about the source of its pollen.  Due to the distance between that plant and the others, bumble bees are more likely pollinators than ants.

Fallen pine needles, open white flowers and dark green leaves combine to create a beautiful image.  Tan skeletal remains of parts of the leaves eaten by insects only serve to establish that this otherwise perfect picture is in fact real.

1 comment:

Indie said...

I'm so excited for you that it is in bloom! What beautiful flowers! That is really awesome that you got to watch a bumblebee pollinate the flowers. I hope it makes a lot of viable seed and that your clump grows for next year.