The weather during the past ten months has ensured a flowering season like no other. A long autumn to ripen wood followed by a benign winter and warmth through the late spring. One of those plants to benefit is Kalmia latifolia, an evergreen shrub from E.N. America.
Clusters of bright pink flowers terminate the previous season’s growth. This is one for the bees. Tucked flat inside the corolla are ten equally spaced stamens. Each anther is nestled into a tiny recess in the corolla. Turn the flower upside down to fully appreciate these, a jelly mould in miniature. Watching a bee pollinate these flowers is a true Linnaean pastime.
If the anther is ripe and ready to shed its pollen as the bee nudges against the filament the anther is released from its recess. This action flings pollen grains over the bee or towards the stigma of another flower to aid pollination.
Putting an individual flower under a hand lens and gently nudging the filament with a pen nib reveals the pent up tension within the filament and the exploding nature of the anther as it showers pollen grains around the inside of the lens.
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