Human Flower Project
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Floral form may suggest a mating strategy, but beware of flying to conclusions.
Morphology (and display): Does this look like a sexual cue to you?
Photo: via medusasmakeup
Why do happily married women wear so much mascara? We look to dark and glam Tacca chantrieri, the bat flower, for clues—with thanks to Tessa Laird for spotting this peculiar species.
A native to Southeast Asia, Tacca chantrieri has been puzzling a busy team of botanists. This plant, and others in its family, seem to be generally self-pollinating, so what are the lipliner, blush and long lashes for?
“Investment in attractive structures represents an allocation cost that animal-pollinated plants pay to secure the ﬁtness advantages that accrue from cross-fertilization,” write Ling Zhang and fellow researchers. “In contrast, for species in which pre-dominant selﬁng is the primary mating strategy, investment in attractive structures is superﬂuous, and resources are instead redirected to alternative structures or activities.” Like fruit production or philosophy.