Monday’s Macro: The butterfly bush and carpenter bee

A neat relationship exists between carpenter bees and the butterfly bush (Polygala myrtifolia): they are the exclusive pollinators of this common pioneer shrub. The flowers are a pretty mauve colour and have an unusual form – two sepals appear as wings and the central petals form a keel presenting a very distinctive end tuft. Keel-flowers have evolved structures and mechanisms to protect their pollen and this frilly crest / tuft presents as an attractant. The carpenter bee (Xylocopa caffra) lands and to access the nectar reward it’s abdomen presses the tuft downwards opening the keel to expose the stamens and anther.

A showy flower with wings and a central keel displaying the distinctive tuft. The species belongs to the milkwort family.
The keel pushed downwards to expose the stamens and anther.

3 thoughts on “Monday’s Macro: The butterfly bush and carpenter bee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.