As regular followers have probably noticed, the genus Massonia is a particular interest of mine. These bulbs (related to Hyacinth) from South Africa are mostly insect pollinated but there was speculation for many years that some species may be pollinated by rodents (mice and gerbils especially).
Some of the evidence:
- There is a superficial resemblance of the flowers of some Massonia species to flowers of certain low-growing Protea shrubs known to be rodent pollinated. Here is a picture from Johnson and Pauw’s paper in Annals of Botany in 2014, showing a mouse at a Leocospermum (Pincushion Protea) flower:
- They share a yeasty aroma with those Protea.
- The nectar forms large open pools in the flower tube but is far too viscous for insects to take up through the proboscis.
In recent years several scientific studies have observed rodent pollination taking place in Massonia and the closely related Whiteheadia:
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