Nectaries on Red Bird of Paradise

The red bird of paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, is a plant with large, attractive red-orange-yellow flowers. It is a popular plant in desert landscapes.

The flowers have long stamens, and is thought to be pollinated by butterflies, especially swallowtails that flutter their wings while feeding.

This flower also has an ant.

Can you see it now?

It's a rover ant, Brachymyrmex patagonicus. Any ideas what the ant might be doing?

The swollen gaster might be a clue.

Honey bees and wasps exhibit the same behavior.

Here's another clue.

Apparently these plants have extrafloral nectaries as well as nectaries within the flowers. Isn't it funny where all these extrafloral nectaries show up on desert-adapted plants?

R. W. Cruden and Sharon M. Hermann-Parker. 1979. Butterfly Pollination of Caesalpinia Pulcherrima, with Observations on a Psychophilous Syndrome. Journal of Ecology. 67( 1): 155-168

3 thoughts on “Nectaries on Red Bird of Paradise

  1. Cool! I think my parents have one of these in their yard in Phoenix - I'll have to check it for extrafloral nectaries when I'm in town over Thanksgiving.

  2. Robin

    This was a great source of fun facts and plant knowledge for this plant. I have two in my front yard and wanted to put two additional plants under the bedroom windows on the side of the house. Found some of the pods on the bigger of the two plants and now going to germinate for my soon to be new plants. Thanks for such a great website!

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