"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Leaf of the Day: Bat Leaved Passionflower

Today is the first day of summer in Orlando. Half way through the year, the longest day. I am thinking about how long the days will be in the UK this week. Light at 4.33am and not dark until 16 hours and 38 minutes later. I love the light, here we have three hours less, with dawn at 6.28 am.

Today I also spent too long at Leu and not enough time at the drawing board but I did find my bat leaved passionflower again, Passiflora coriacea. As you can see it is extraordinary, it is leaf shaped but sideways on. It is also slightly ironic, on the lightest day, to talk about creatures of the night but this is an excellent opportunity to introduce not only the bat leaved passionflower but also the delightful nectar feeding bats who are instrumental in the pollination of many flowers, including some passionflowers.
How you feel about bats is up to you but I personally like them very much. They are the only flying mammal, that in itself is amazing.
Bats, apart from doing the very good deed of hoovering up mosquitoes are important pollinators of many plants, amongst which are bananas and quite a few passionflowers. Bat pollinated passionflowers all have flowers which hang down, open late in the afternoon and have anthers which are angled in such a way as to brush the top of the head of a visiting bat with pollen. The bats need to visit the flowers often as their metabolism uses up energy very fast and in response the flowers make sure the nectaries are topped up regularly.



Here is a beautiful photograph of a nectar feeding bat from a learned article from the University of Arizona here about the importance of pollinators whose conclusion is that:
'Migratory nectar-feeding bats, hummingbirds and resident bee populations are demonstrably at risk due to burgeoning human populations and changing landuse patterns '

So spare a kind thought for these funny little creatures, join a bat conservation group or just lean more about them. There is a good site here Bat Conservation International. and to learn more about passionflowers and bats there is an excellent site here at http://www.passionflow.co.uk/


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Bat Leaved Passionflower


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