BOTAN­I­CAL PROMISCUITY

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Advertising Feature -

The ad­di­tional sea­son that we of­ten talk about is here. It’s not quite a spring but a dry­ing out and start of the build-up to the mon­soon. This is an ex­ten­sion of the four sea­sons by two. One ad­di­tional be­fore and one af­ter the wet.

As the ground dries like crispy Corn­flakes, the trees of the re­gion are start­ing to flower as Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber are their sea­son. Sup­pos­edly af­ter a good drench­ing ear­lier in the year, they give up their beauty and start re­pro­duc­ing pods and seeds, and just about any­thing to re­cy­cle them­selves. Af­ter all that’s ex­actly what it’s all about.

It is a most pro­mis­cu­ous time among trees, it would seem. This is why a tree is fes­tooned with flow­ers. It knows all its pol­li­nated seeds (or self­pol­li­na­tion) won’t work.

Like the bib­li­cal para­ble where some seeds will fall onto stone and rock and die, and oth­ers will find fer­tilsed soil and sur­vive.

What­ever made us think they flower for our ben­e­fit? In this mix there are bats, birds, bees, grasshop­pers and just about any trawl­ing in­sect that will scut­tle over the re­pro­duc­tive parts of the flow­ers and then onto an­other to dis­trib­ute pollen and fer­til­ity.

Bats as we know them get bad press. We are to be afraid of them for sure as they carry a few nasty viruses, but they too have a job with cashews, man­goes, eu­ca­lypts, durian and guava to men­tion a few. Their work is done in the dark spread­ing pollen and con­tribut­ing to the sex life of a tree, in ex­change for its sweet fruit or honey flora.

Sym­bio­sis is some­thing we could un­der­stand a lit­tle bet­ter be­cause in the end there re­ally are not many things that don’t have a con­nec­tion. A tree can’t re­ally grow and ma­ture to pro­duce flow­ers if the soil is rub­bish, full of fun­gus and sim­ply the wrong place for the tree ... doomed to a life with­out sex­ual ac­tiv­ity.

The stin­g­less so­cial na­tive bee is also busy as­sist­ing in tree pro­cre­ation, es­pe­cially with macadamias, man­goes and litchis.

So tree flow­er­ing time is not only a spec­ta­cle, but an es­sen­tial cir­cu­lar pat­tern nec­es­sary for the sex­ual life of a tree. What turns its buds or plucks its pollen is also an es­sen­tial part of the spec­ta­cle.

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