Thursday, 31 May 2012

Marvel of Peru flowers pictures.

Mirabilis Jalapa 
 The four o'clock flower-Mirabilis jalapa, this popular garden plant is starting to bloom in July.
The flowers open in the afternoon, that's where the name comes from. They stay open during the night, being pollinated by nocturnal pollinators, like the sphinx moths or hawk moths. Also called the Marvel of Peru, the flowers of this plant are splashed with different colours, like these yellow flowers with pink- magenta spots. More interesting is that as the plant matures, it can display flowers of different colors on the same plant; the yellow flowers can change to pink or white ones change to light violet.

Caring for Mirabilis plants

Once growing it is best to water beauty of the night regularly; it is also necessary to fertilise Mirabilis once a month. Once the flowering period has finished cut the plants back to ground level. If you require more Mirabilis plants then the tubers can be divided in the spring. Four o'clock plants are shrubby perennials in warm climates, growing from tuberous roots. In colder climate the foliage dies back to the ground in autumn but the tubers must be stored indoors during winter and replanted in the garden in spring.

Quick Mirabilis Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Four O'clock, Marvel of Peru, Beauty of the Night, Wishbone Bush, Heartleaf Umbrella Wort.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 6 to 50 inches (15 to 125 cm).
Native: Americas.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10.
Flowers: Summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Yellow, red, white, pink; often two-toned. Deep throated trumpets. Fragrant. Flowers open in the evening.
Foliage: Green. Thin. Oval or heart-shaped.
Sow Outside: Surface. Following last frost or in autumn (warm areas). Spacing 4 to 40 inches (10 to 100 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: one to three weeks in the light. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost or in autumn.
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 6-7. Ordinary soil. Monthly feed. Regular watering. Perennials should be cut back to the ground once flowering has finished. Propagate: dividing in the spring.
Miscellaneous: Mirabilis is the Latin word for amazing/wonderful.
 The flowers are used for food colouring. Parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine as a diuretic and for wound healing.
Though its black seeds are poisonous, they are used as a powder in cosmetics.

How to grow marvel of Beauty of the Night

Beauty of the Night should be sown about a week after the last frost of spring on the surface. The plant likes to grow in an average soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6 to 7). Beauty of the night can be grown both in sunny and in partially shaded areas.
If starting Beauty of the night and other Mirabilis off indoors then start about one and a half months in advance. The seeds should be sown in peat pots and takes about one to three weeks to germinate in the light at 20 degrees Centigrade. Once ready transplant the young beauty of the night plants following the last frost at from 15 to 20cm (small Mirabilis) or 30 to 90cm (larger species) apart.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cypress flowers pictures.

The Cypress vine will bear flowers every day from July until the end of September, though not as many as Ipomoea purpurea. The species is sown indoors and may be taken out-of-doors to the warmest and sunniest spot you can find by the end of May. It is also possible to buy the plant, though it is not widely available.
Ipomoea quamoclit (Cardinal Creeper or Hummingbird Vine or Star Glory) is a species of morning glory native to tropical regions of the New World from northern South America north to Mexico.
It is an annual or perennial herbaceous twining vine growing to 1-3 m tall. The leaves are 2-9 cm long, deeply lobed (nearly pinnate) with 9-19 lobes on each side of the leaf. The flowers are 3-4 cm long and 2 cm diameter, trumpet-shaped with five points, and can be red, pink or white; flowering is from early summer to late fall.Cypress Vine, with its tiny red flowers and delicate fern-like leaves, is a marvelous thing to have on a fence. Belonging to the same genus as the morning glory, the dainty red flowers bloom in the morning. The leaves are 3-4 in long and feather-like, finely divided pinnately into threadlike segments. The scarlet red (rarely white) flowers are tubular, about 1.5 in long, and flare out at the mouth into a five-pointed star. It is a hummingbird favorite. This annual plant produces hundreds of flowers--and thousands of seeds--usually insuring its presence from year to year. Particularly in warm locations, Cypress Vine can become invasive. However, as an annual it can be controlled if unwanted plants are removed before they set seed.Start Cypress Vine flower seeds to create a beautiful climbing vine that makes the perfect concealing screen. Cypress Vines are easy and fast to grow, and they cheer up an unsightly building or climb a trellis or pergola quickly to provide a dazzling display. This variety has star-shaped red blooms and feathery, fern-like leaves. This vine brings not only brilliant colour, but also wonderful texture.
Cypress Vine plants grow well in full sun or partial shade. They are not picky about the quality of soil, but it does need to have good drainage. Once the Cypress Vine plant is established well, it can withstand periods of drought. However, it will grow faster and have more blooms with regular water. The star-shaped flower are full of nectar and humming birds cannot resist them. Deadheading the spent blooms will encourage a prolonged bloom season. Blooms will usually start the first of summer and continue until fall. In some warm regions, Cypress Vine will grow as a perennial.
Cypress Vine flower seeds are large. Some gardeners recommend soaking the seeds in tepid water for 2 hours before sowing. This is supposed to quicken germination. Sow the Cypress Vine flower seed indoors 3 - 4 weeks before the end of frost season. Using small pots, sow the flower seeds onto moist starter mix and cover 1/8 inch with soil. Keep the Cypress Vine seed moist until germination. Transplant the seedling outdoors after danger of frost. Another method would be to directly sow Cypress Vine flower seeds outdoors after all danger of frost. Once the soil has warmed and can be loosened and weeded, sow 6 Cypress Vine flower seeds per foot. Cover with 1/8 inch garden soil, and keep them moist until germination. When seedlings emerge, thin to 9 - 12 inches apart. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mezereon flowers pictures.

Mezereon (Daphne Mezereum)
perennial shrub, March-April, 40-120cm high
This plant is also known as “tormented throat” as it contains toxins that inflame the throat, even a few berries can cause fatalities and the juice of the berries can cause rashes and blisters. It’s interesting though that wagtails and thrushes can eat the berries without ill-effect and do so spitting out the kernels.
 It is a deciduous shrub growing to 1.5 m tall. The leaves are soft, 3-8 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are produced in early spring on the bare stems before the leaves appear. They have a four-lobed pink or light purple (rarely white) perianth 10-15 mm diameter, and are strongly scented. The fruit is a bright red berry 7-12 mm diameter; it is very poisonous for people, though fruit-eating birds like thrushes are immune and eat them, dispersing the seeds in their droppings.
 The name Daphne comes from the Greek myth that Daphne appealed to Aphrodite to save her from a lustful god so she was turned into a tree. As a result, virgins wear Daphne leaves to preserve their purity.
 One of our more unusual wild flowers, Daphne mezereum is a British that thrives on chalky soils. This is one small shrub that delivers big time in winter with beautiful flowers of purple or pure white that have the most intoxicating fragrance.
Possibly my personal favourite winter shrub of all though is a Daphne relative from China – Edgeworthia chrysantha, the Paper Bush. The flexible bark of this beauty was traditionally made into bank notes, but unless you’re planning your own small-scale printing operation, you, like me, will be more drawn to the tubular, fragrant flowers of pale yellow. The form ‘Red Dragon’, if you can find it, is even more beautiful with impossibly exotic bright red flowers that, on a sunny winters day (and possibly depending on what you’ve been drinking the night before) might just convince you that you’re in the Caribbean.
Hamamelis (Witch Hazels) are firm favourites that can be found in most larger gardens. The old hybrid ‘Pallida’ is still hard to beat on the scent front, but there are a range of new-ish hybrids arriving from breeders in Belgium that deliver much larger flowers with the same awesome perfume. Colours vary from pale yellow through copper orange to blood red. ‘Nina’ is the finest of all the yellows and I particularly love the dramatic, large burnt orange flowers of recently introduced ‘Aurora’ and ‘Aphrodite.’
 Mezereon is a deciduous shrub with upright branches, flowering profusely on bare wood from February to March. Rubra variety is the one with deepest pink-red flowers. They appear in short clusters of 2-4 flowers and have a strong, sweet perfume. In early summer small berries of poisonous fruit ripen. The leaves are elongate, fresh green.

The shrub grows slowly and resent transplanting. It likes medium fertile soil that is well drained but keeps moisture. Fully hardy to -34°C (USDA zone 4).
Is a species of Daphne in the flowering plant family Thymelaeaceae, native to most of Europe and Western Asia, north to northern Scandinavia and Russia. In southern Europe it is confined to medium to higher elevations and in the subalpine vegetation zone, but descends to near sea level in northern Europe. It is generally confined to soils derived from limestone.One of the first plants to flower at the end of winter is this mezereon. Well before the first spring trees open their buds you can find this plant flowering in the wild, along the paths in the woods or on sunny meadows. Its natural habitat is Europe.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Borage flowers pictures.

Borage, which is also called the starflower originated in Syria, but spread throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as Europe, North Africa, Asia, and South America.
Bees love borage flowers and are attracted to gardens where it blooms.
Its also said to strengthen the pest and disease resistance of plants growing around it, particularly strawberries.
Borage is another herb that has beautiful flowers and will surely add lots of colour to any garden.The blooms are edible as are the leaves. Leaves smell and taste of cool cucumber and are a welcome addition to salads and dips. Young leaves are eaten fresh in salads and sandwiches. Older leaves that may be too hairy to eat fresh are cooked as a vegetable like spinach or added to soups for their cucumber flavour. Peeled and chopped stems can be eaten as well for all parts of the plant taste like cucumber.

 Borage is an annual herb that grows up to two feet tall and three feet across. Large, oblong leaves alternate up the hairy stems. Leaves are also hairy, soft to the touch and fuzzy. Flowers are in loose clusters that tend to dangle or droop. The flowering stalks may have a reddish cast to them. Five blue, pointed petals make the blooms look like stars. Sometimes the flowers are white or rose-coloured, but usually they’re blue. It’s not uncommon to have pink flowers and blue flowers on the same plant.
From the rear of the flower five sepals seem to form a star-like pattern that alternates with the five petals. Five yellow stamens meet in the center of the blossom to form a cone. The bright yellow and blue colors make for a beautiful contrast and a very attractive flower.
Bees are definitely attracted to borage plants growing in the garden. It may be planted just for that reason, to bring the bees that will pollinate other garden plants and stimulate fruit and seed production.
As an annual herb borage dies off at the end of the growing season with the first cold weather. It is considered to be a self-seeder, so new plants will grow from seeds that were dropped the year before. It germinates late in spring, so for the best harvest start some plants indoors.
Borage blossoms are so pretty that they’re used for garnishing plates, salads and beverages. Cold drinks seem more refreshing with a couple of borage flowers floating on top. Whole flowers or just the petals can be used as a beautiful and scented garnish.


Borage is an annual that grows to 3 feet tall.
Flowers: It has clear blue, star-shaped flowers about 3/4 of an inch in diameter that bloom in drooping clusters from midsummer to frost. Each flower has interesting black anthers at its cone-shaped center.
Leaves: The broad hairy leaves have prominent vains. The leaves on the upper portion of the plant are alternate and grow up to 6 inches long.
Flower and fragrance: Borage leaves and flowers have a salty, close-to-cucumber taste.

How To Grow

When To Plant: Sow in peat or newspaper pots six to eight weeks before your last spring frost date. Transplant the seedlings to the garden or direct sow the seeds after all danger of frost has passed.
Where to plant: Borage prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, particularly in southern areas. However the plants usually do best in cooler weather.
Soil and fertility: Plant in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Plant spacing: You'll want to allow about 2 square feet per plant.
Pests: Borage is usually pest-free.
Diseases: Its susceptible to root rot in soggy soils.


When to harvest: You can harvest the leaves anytime in the growing season, gathering them in the morning when the dew has dried. Pick the flowers when they're fully open in the morning after they're dry.
How to harvest: Snip individual leaves or strip them off the cut stems. Snip the flowers or pinch off the entire cluster.
Freezing: Freeze borage flowers in ice cubes for a decorative touch in iced drinks.


Cooking: Borage has a flavor similar to a cucumber. You can mince some leaves in yogurt or snip them over soups , salads, curries, fish, and chicken dishes. Steam the leaves to eat as a vegetable. You can also add the fresh flowers to salads.
Vinegars: You can use the leaves to make a lightly flavored vinegar.
Crystalizing: Crystalize the flowers for decorations on pastries and such.
Medicinal: Borage leaf tea is said to be slightly laxative in action.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Hop flowers.

The ancient Romans grew hops as a garden plant and ate the young spring shoots which are reminiscent in taste of asparagus. English country folk and gypsies in the following centuries would continue to partake of hops in this manner and, as is so often the case, hops made its way into the herbalist’s repertoire via the kitchen – its medical value being discovered through noting the effects on people when the plant was eaten as a vegetable. Hops is a close relative of both stinging nettle and the Cannabis genus, and is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is distinguished by its vine-like leaves and unusual, green-yellow, scaly buds. The female flowers, called ‘strobiles’, are the parts now used medicinally and in the production of beer.

Hops have always been used to soothe and settle – by calming and toning the nerves in cases of anxiety, insomnia, tension and restlessness. The sedative action of hops, which has been confirmed experimentally, is due to its marked effect on the central nervous system. In addition it has been shown to have an antispasmodic action on smooth muscle which explains its use in the treatment of gastric and intestinal spasms. It also helps to stimulate digestion and trigger appetite. Oestrogenic substances are found in hops, as well as good antibiotic activity – it can be used externally for its antiseptic properties. As a sleeping aid, sachets of hops flowers have been put in/under pillows to release a calming aroma, and it can also be taken as a bed-time tea – it has a ‘pleasantly bitter’ taste and a soothing, relaxing calm can be experienced within as little as 20 to 40 minutes after ingesting the herb.

As well as its primary use as a sedative, hops have been used traditionally in India and China for ailments such as headache, indigestion and intestinal cramps; and also by the Cherokee people as an anti-rheumatic, analgesic (it has some pain-relieving properties), and for kidney and urinary inflammation.

For horses, hops’ effects are valuable when help is needed to re-model old habits and nervous attitudes. It is also indicated for general debility, especially when the animal has lost its appetite and is wasting. It is the bitter principle of hops, which is well known to beer drinkers, that predominantly accounts for this herb’s ability to stimulate the digestive system.

Actions include: sedative, visceral anti-spasmodic, bitter digestive tonic, astringent, antimicrobial (locally antiseptic and healing), anaphrodisiac, restoring tonic for nervous system, diuretic, anodyne (allays pain).

Please note: Hops contain oestrogenic substances and could interfere with pre-existing hormone therapy. Although hops as no known toxicity it can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Hops most not be used in those suffering from depression.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Currant flowers pictures.

 Red-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is a Pacific Northwest native deciduous shrub. and member of the Currant family (Grossulariaceae).

Found along coastal areas from British Columbia, south to central California, it is well known as a hummingbird bush. The red flowers are early bloomers, making them a first stop for the hummingbirds following the Pacific Flyway on their northern migration.
Many of the plants in the Ribes genus are berry plants, including the Red-Flowering Currant. While its berries are edible.

A deciduous spring flowering garden shrub that is easy to grow,  giving a huge display of many bright coloured clusters of scented flowers in late March, early April.
The scented flowers attract early spring insects like bees, and the bunches of dark-blue or black berries become that ripen during the late summer, are enjoyed by wild birds.
There are quite a variety of colours and species of Flowering Currant, all of which are tolerant of most soil types, and require little care, besides occasional Autumn pruning, growning to a height of 2-2.5m  makes it ideal for creating an informal hedge.

Popular Varieties

“King Edward VII” – Deep crimson flowers – March-April
“Tydeman’s White” – White Flowers – March-April
“R. odoratum” or (Buffalo currant) – Yellow – April
In my garden the Flowering Current is in a semi -shaded position getting sun from the rise till late morning.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hortensia flowers.

Botanical Name: Hydrangea macrophylla                                                 Common Name: Big leaf hydrangea, Hortensia, Lace-cap hydrangea, Florist's Hydrangea                                                                                                                     This is one of the most widely recognized species of hydrangeas. It boasts a plentiful number of cultivars. The species is divided into two groups: the Hortensias (or "mopheads") have globe-shaped flowers made up of large male flowers, and the Lacecaps have flattened flowerheads, with central, female blossoms ringed in larger, male blossoms. 
Noteworthy characteristics: Lacy, horizontal blossoms and large globes of flowers in rich colors.Care: Grow in moist, but well-drained soil, in sun to partial shade. Provide shelter from drying winds. These hydrangeas flower on the previous season's wood, and can be maintained by cutting back just to the first pair of buds beneath the old flower in spring. Propagation: Sow seed in a cold frame in spring; take softwood cuttings in early summer, hardwood cuttings in winterProblems: Gray mold, slugs, powdery mildew, rust, ringspot virus, leaf spots.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Crown imperial flowers pictures.

 BotanicalName: Fritillaria imperialis                          Common Name: Crown imperial                                      
 Native to Iran, Afghanistan and the foothills of the Himalayas, The flower grows 3 to 4 feet tall on a stalk that ends in a tuft of green fronds somewhat like palm trees with bright, vivid flowers hanging below. Crown Imperial flowers will survive and come up in the spring. They appear in April or May and bloom for about 3 weeks, 
 This species draws much attention with its striking gaiety of colour and form. Its large, bell-shaped flowers in shades of orange, yellow, and red dangle from tufts of shiny green leaf bracts. Sitting atop sturdy, 3-foot stalks, the flowers make a surprising and regal statement in the late spring garden.
 Care: These bulbous perennials needs fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Plant at four times their own depth. The hollow-centred bulbs do best planted on their sides and surrounded with sharp sand.
 Propagation: Sow seed in a cold frame in fall, provide winter cold treatment, and then move to cool greenhouse. Divide offsets in late summer.
Problems: Rust, leaf spot.

  • 1
    Cultivate the soil in an area of the landscape that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. Till or turn the soil over 6 to 8 inches deep, then mix in 2 or 3 inches of compost, perlite or coarse sand. This helps promote good drainage, which is a must for crown imperial flowers.
  • 2
    Dig holes that are 6 inches deep and spaced 6 to 12 inches apart.
  • 3
    Sprinkle coarse sand in the grooves and holes of the bulbs. If water gets trapped in the bulbs, they will rot.
  • 4
    Fill the hole with 1 inch of coarse sand, then set one bulb in each hole on its side. Cover the bulbs with 1 inch of sand.
  • 5
    Backfill the soil to fill in the rest of the hole, tamping it lightly; do not pack the soil firmly. Water the area with 1 inch of water.
  • 6
    Cover the area with 2 inches of mulch after the first freeze the first winter, especially in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 and 6.
  • 7
    Remove mulch in the spring and water with 1/2 to 1 inch of water each week (when rain is scarce) from spring until summer. Prune faded flower stalks, but leave the foliage intact until fall or early winter. Prune them to the ground after they wither.
Each plant forms a single stalk that blooms a cluster of tubular flowers of striking colours including red, yellow and orange. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Cornflowers pictures.

 Description: Bachelor's button grows one to three feet tall with innumerable fluffy but trim round flowers held above the rather sparse, long and narrow gray-green leaves. The habit of growth is relatively loose, except with compact new cultivars.
 The inhabitant of Europe has such common names as Cornflower, Basket flower, Boutonniere and Bluebottle.

The plant may reach the length of 90 cm being borne on grey-greenish branch-like stems. The leaves of Bachelor’s button grow to 1-4 cm. Its blossoms usually come in bright blue color, being borne in flower heads named capitula with the diameter up to3 cm.  The blooms represent a ring of a several big florets that surround a central cluster of disc florets. 

Centaurea cyanus is cultivated as a gardening ornamental plant with other cultivars coming in such pastel colors as pink and purple. Sometimes the plant serves as a culinary ornament. It makes a tea component and is popular in the Lady Grey blend of Twinings.
 Propagation: To grow seedlings indoors, germinate at 65 degrees Fahrenheit four weeks before planting out. Germination time is 7 to 14 days.
 Scientific name: Centaurea cyanus
How to grow: Full sun in Average soil is good. For earliest bloom, sow seeds outdoors in the fall so they will start to grow before the first frost and bloom the next spring. Otherwise, sow seeds outdoors as early in the spring as the soil can be worked. Thin to 8 to 12 inches apart.                                                                        Having the botanical name of Centaurea cyanus, the annual flowering plant Bachelor’s button represents the family Asteraceae.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pincushion protea flowers pictures.

 This flower is known as Leucospermum in the scientific world. It is part of the Proteaceae family. In addition, this family of plants has over 100 species. This diverse family includes trees, and shrubs. Moreover, majority of these species can be found in South Africa. The climate there is perfect to grow these delicate and intricate flowers. Since they are highly utilized in flower arrangements, many cultivate this plant all year round for steady supply. Even though certain species bloom on a particular season, there are still others species to choose from.
 The Pincushion Protea is a very unique plant having distinctive flowers. Special care must be given to them in order to maintain their elegance. The most important part of their care regimen is regularly changing their water. Also, removing foliage that has been soaked in water is imperative. It is also a god idea to cut off around half of an inch from the stem’s tip every time you change water. Cut the tip under water for best results. Conditioning of the flowers is best achieved by incorporating floral preservatives and floral food before it is used in arrangements or before it is stored.
This very special plant requires special attention. Without the right care, the Pincushion Protea will lose it appeal. But more than that, its health will deteriorate and die. Providing them with their basic requirements not only makes them beautiful, it also ensures their survival.
 Greek legend tells us that protea were named after Proteus, the son of Poseidon. A sea god who had the power to know all things past, present and future, Proteus was defiant and preferred to nap on the island of Pharos rather than prophesize. To deter those seeking his insights, he would change his shape at will, and it said that the protea flower was named after him because it,     
 Pincushion Protea is actually a Leucospermum that is closely related to the popular "Safari Sunset" which is used as a green. The floral industry has adopted the name "Pincushion Protea" for this wonderfully exotic flower. Shelf life of this exotic mass flower is exceptional... ranging between 2 to 3 weeks. Pincushion Protea can be safely kept in the cooler with other flowers providing the temperature is at or above 36 degrees.
In their natural South African habitat, the seeds produced by the Pincushion Protea are gathered up by ants and buried in the soil.  Only after a fire has killed the overgrowing plants, and returned their nutrients to the soil, do the seeds germinate to produce more of these spectacular blooms!
The majority of proteas flower in spring and summer, with fewest species flowering in autumn. This pattern may relate to the abundance of pollinators, optimal conditions for nectar secretion, or the need for myrmecochorous species to synchronize seed release to the season of maximum ant activity.A feature of protea pollination is that pollen is deposited by the anthers onto a modified tip of the style (called the pollen presenter). Flowers usually remain closed until triggered by a visiting bird, mammal or insect, when they snap open releasing the style which rubs pollen onto the visitor. If no visitors arrive, flowers may open during the heat of day (or late afternoon in mouse-pollinated species). Pollen falls off the pollen presenter after a few hours of exposure to air.
The stigmatic grooves of proteas are closed when flowers open, but open maximally after 24 to 36 hours. The stigma is then ready to receive pollen brought by visitors. Thus proteas are protandrous: the male organs mature before the female and prevent self-pollination. Most Protea species seem incapable of self-pollination (i.e. are self-incompatible), although certain Serruria and Leucospermum species do set seed when pollinated with pollen from the same plant. Dioecious proteas (i.e. Leucadendron and Aulax with separate sexes) are obviously unable to pollinate themselves.
Flower-heads may remain open for a few days up to several weeks. Flowers almost always open from the outside towards the middle of a flowerhead. However, when flowerheads are grouped into conflorescences, inner heads may open before the outer.
There are four main syndromes of pollination in our proteas:
  1. Rodent pollination: Several species of gerbils, mice, rats and shrews visit flower-heads of some Protea species and Hook Pincushions. Rodents are attracted by a strong musty odour, and a reward of syrupy sugar which is secreted in large quantities. In order to prevent birds and insects from stealing this nectar, rodent-pollinated (therophilous) proteas have inconspicuous brown or black involucral bracts. Flower-heads are usually hidden inside the bush at ground level, where they are accessible to rodents. The insides of the involucral bracts may be pale white and the tips of the flowers may be shiny red - both serve to guide the rodent to the nectar in the dark. The nectar is contained within the tepal tube, and the distance between the pollen presenter and the nectar is the same as the length of the rodents snout (about 10 mm) allowing pollen to be deposited on the head. The nectar is rich in cane sugar (sucrose). Since most therophilous proteas flower in spring, nectar is available during the rodents' breeding period.
  2. Bird pollination: In contrast to therophily, flower-heads of bird-pollinated (ornithophilous) proteas are often brightly coloured. Many Mimetes, Protea and Leucospermum species are ornithophilous. Because bird and human vision is similar, ornithophilous flowerheads are aesthetically pleasing to us. The bright red, orange, yellow, green and pink colouring on involucral bracts and styles serve as visual attraction. The colours are relatively inconspicuous to many insects which cannot see red and orange. Since birds do not rely on smell, ornithophilous proteas have little odour. A perch may be provided by stems, unopened florets, and awns, whereas, in some species, birds have to sit on the ground. Copious quantities of easily digested glucose-rich (fruit sugar) nectar are secreted. The most important bird visitors are the Sugarbirds, which can truly be considered Protea-birds, and the Sunbirds.
  3. Insect pollination: Many of the "bird-pollinated" proteas are visited by large numbers of beetles - up to 2000 insects may occur in a single flower-head. Among the most important of these are the Scarab Beetles (Scarabaeoidea: e.g. Protea Beetle Trichostetha fascicularis and Monkey Beetles) and Rover (Staphylinid) beetles. The relative importance of birds and insects in pollinating these species is unknown. Although insects in Protea flower-heads often end up as bird-food, they adequately pollinate flowers when birds are absent. Another feature of "bird-pollinated" proteas is the occurrence of thousands of itch mites (Proctolaelaps vandenbergi) in flower-heads. These mites are phoresic (transported) on birds and beetles and feed on nectar and pollen. Although absent on young flower-heads, mature Protea flower-heads may contain over 6000 breeding mites. Whether these mites might play a role in pollination is not known. Because bird-pollinated flower-heads are relatively odourless itch mites may provide endless entertainment: merely watch the reactions of someone smelling a bird-pollinated Protea flower-head too closely! However, certain proteas are exclusively visited by insects: Smaller Protea (the Shale Proteas) and Leucospermum species are insect pollinated, mainly by bees and wasps; Leucadendron species are visted by a number of beetles; and most of the smaller genera are visited by a variety of beetles, flies and wasps. These species can usually be distinguished by their production of sweet, spicy or sour odours, and relatively meagre production of nectar. They tend to be pink, cream or yellow in colour, and are usually considerably smaller in size than bird-pollinated species.
  4. Wind pollination: There are only 10 wind-pollinated proteas in southern Africa: all are Leucadendron species. These are characterized by not secreting nectar - most do not even have nectaries - and being odourless. The females have large stigmas for filtering pollen out of the air. In the males the pollen does not adhere to the pollen presenter, but is scattered in large showers on opening, from whence it drifts in the wind.