Shedding Light on the Defense
Sunlight shining through the lip-edge of a lilypad of the Amazon Water Lily (Victoria amazonica). See large size for detail.
The Amazon Water Lily is found in the tropical Amazon River basin of Brazil. The enormous pads can grow up to ten feet in diameter on leafstalks twenty to twenty-five feet long. Young pads can grow up to eight inches a day.
This water lily has a unique method of reproduction. Late in the day, buds open to huge white flowers, which emit a strong pineapple scent. In its native environment, the scent attracts a scarab beetle, covered with pollen from another flower. As morning comes, the blossom closes around the beetle, reopening the following evening to a pink color. During the day, the anthers of the plant have matured and dusted the beetle, which is released to pollinate another flower. In this strange way, the plant ensures it is not self-pollinated. Ain't Nature grand?!
*** Info on the Amazon Water Lily plant from the Huntsville Botanical Garden, where these photos were taken.