Living Systems Practical Sex, rewards and pollination

Group Members: Madison Hughes, Kait Preece, Georgia Manser, Elkie Papadatos


Azalea - Rhododendron japonicum



Plant species: Rhododendron japonicum
Plant family: Ericaceae
Common name: Azalea
Distribution: Sandy soils, prefers to grow in shade.
Habit: Shrub to 2m in height

Flowers: Medium pink flowers, five petals per flower, naturally bright colours, fluorescent pattern on the petals and fluorescent pollen is visible in the UV spectrum to attract insects like hymenoptera. The anther is angled down to pick up the pollen collected on the insects back from brushing past the stamen on other plants. The stamen are shorter than the anther to encourage conspecificity, and increase the likelihood of pollen being deposited by visiting insects.
Flowers grow out from the stems at 45 degree angles, and the angle between the paired flowers is 90 degrees. Flowers protruding from the stem are in pairs, with 8-10 stamen and a single anther per flower. The male stamen and the female stigma are positioned together in the same flower. The egg can be fertilised at the same time as the stamen are producing sperm.
Fruit: no visible fruit
Seed: no visible seeds

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Azalea Buds















Open Azalea Flowers


Floral Morphology

Flower number
Shape
Colour
Length (mm)
Width (mm)
Height (mm)
Stigma length (mm)
Stamen Length (mm)
Nectar volume uL
Sugar Brix %

1
pentagonal funnel
pink
55
45
30
30
25
no measurable nectar
N/A

2
pentagonal funnel
pink
47
45
43
25
27
no measurable nectar
N/A

3
pentagonal funnel
pink
52
37
45
28
28
no measurable nectar
N/A

4
pentagonal funnel
pink
45
42
38
32
26
no measurable nectar
N/A

5
pentagonal funnel
pink
51
39
35
33
29
no measurable nectar
N/A



Average
50.0
41.6
38.2
29.6
27
NIL
N/A



St. Dev
4.0
3.6
6.1
3.2
1.6
NIL
N/A

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Male and female structures of the Azalea flower

Collectively the sepals are known as the calyx, and the petals are collectively called the carola.
The stigma, ovary and style are collectively called the carpel, and the anther and filament are called the stamen.
The spot pattern on the lowermost petals fluoresce to guide bees to landing on this petal for optimal pollen dispersal and pollen deposition for fertilisation.

pollen2.jpg

Pollen from the Azalea flower

Pollen: The isolated pollen granules were viewed under a microscope with UV light. They are organised as tetrads and the pollen can be seen to fluoresce brightly. This fluorescence is to attract insects like bees that see UV wavelengths.

Please note: The data in this report may not be replicable and will vary according to growth conditions , genetic diversity within the species, environmental factors such as drought, humidity, UV exposure and wind exposure.