Friday, December 24, 2010
The Aristolochia californica is now in bloom at the UC Botanical Garden. They look stunning here, but in real life, they are rather subtle, and you will miss the flowers if you are not looking for them. The leafless plants with the pipe-like flowers are on the left of the main path, between the serpentine bed and the oak knoll. They are pollinated by fungus gnats, which apparently are not attracted to bright colors or fragrance, because this blossom has none of that. They are rather maroon. The tiny fungus gnats fly in, and fly to the light colored stem-end of the flower to try to get out. That is where the anthers are, so they get covered in pollen. Then, evenually, they find their way out. Some flowers I have seen have holes in them, so I wonder if they eat their way out....? Anyway, Pipevine is pollinated by by fungus gnats, and the caterpillars of Pipevine Swallowtails eat the foliage. Two very different insects have very close relationships with this special plant.
The Bot Garden is closed today and tomorrow, so don't try to see this plant until after Xmas.