Natural Gethyllis Pollination - Photographic Record of Pollinators Pollinating


Gethyllis — also known commonly as Kukumakranka or Koekemakranka [suggested pronunciation, "[Khoi San click]-u-[Khoi San click]-u-ma-[Khoi San click]-an-[Khoi San click]-a", and suggested meaning: "Crazy-Looking" — has a rich tradition in Africa with both colonial descendants and Khoi San people. Gethyllis is the only bulb in the world to produce a delicious fruit from below ground, and is the only bulb flower to be active almost throughout the year: flowering mid summer, leafing in winter, and fruiting (setting seed) in autumn. Usually, one plants a Gladiolus in winter, and it flowers and seeds, for instance, in that same season.

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Dissimilar to Lachenalia seed pods which form hard seed kernels, for instance, Gethyllis seeds are fruity, phallic shaped, peachy colored, and delicious. The seeds inside, themselves, are soft, also fleshy to touch -- and chew. As for the way in which such a fruit develops post pollination, little is known. And the same can be said of the pollinators, without which there would be no fruit to speak of and no intriguing traditional history surrounding this fruit's oddity.


Pollinators

The plant's rarity is probably the main reason why there is very-little-to-no research covering its pollinators. This exceptionally scarce African bulb plant species is naturally highly sought after in the exotic rare-plant flower trade. Pollination aside, very little is known about the genus itself. Conflicting sources, each of notable research, often classify some of them differently, even omitting species names from catalogue lists for want of really knowing whether the species or subspecies actually exists. Plant and botanical experts, R. and B. Saunders, for instance, noted that even amongst the rare and exotic plant botanists, "nobody seems to know [what's what]" when it comes to Gethyllis. There are several reasons for this lack of knowledge; the plants are very rarely seen in the wilds of Southern Africa because there are so few; and because they flower for only a day or two in an entire year, in the absence of leaves. The chances, then, of sighting one of these gem-species in flower in any given year, and in their natural habitat and environment, in other words, are one or two out of 365! The chances of seeing pollinators being even less than these odds.

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African Honey Bee on Gethyllis Britteniana Flower
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Ant on Gethyllis britteniana Flower
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Bumble Bee on Gethyllis Ciliaris Flower

Kamiesberg Hover Fly on Gethyllis Undulata Flower
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Wood Ant on Gethyllis Undulata Flower
Kukumakranka koekemakranka pollinator mantis
Mantis on Gethyllis Setosa Flower
Gethyllis pollinator fly
Fly on Gethyllis Campanulata Flower
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Metallic Wasp from Gethyllis Namaquensis Flower
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Spider eats Hoverfly: Gethyllis Grandiflora Flower
Gethyllis pollinator drone bee wasp
Small striped wasp on Gethyllis britteniana
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Toktokie on Gethyllis Britteniana ssp Flower
larvae pollinating gethyllis flower
Larvae(?) Pollinators

The insects, various species of ant, flying insects, and arachnids, above, may not all be strictly considered pollinators. The predatory creatures go from flower to flower not with the intent of collecting pollen or nectar, but in the hunt for pollinators, in a strict sense of the word. However, a mantis or a jumping spider sitting inside a flower-cup must in some way contribute to the dissemination of pollen and is thus included in this list of pollinators.

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