Cactus Flower Pollination and Pollinator Week Events

Did you know that this week is Pollinator Week?

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If you live in Arizona, you might want to check out the National Pollinator Week celebration at Tohono Chul in Tucson. It is going to be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday June 22, 2013. The first 50 families attending the event will get to make their own native bee habitat to take home. There will be special showings of Wings of Life, a new film from Disneynature narrated by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, and a talk by bee specialist Dr. Stephen Buchmann of Pollinator Partnership. Sounds like a great way to spend the day!

If you don't live in Arizona, you can find your state on the clickable map at www.pollinator.org to locate events near you.

When talking about pollinators, we often hear that they are responsible for the viable production of about one third of our food supply. Although we think of grocery store staples like apples, squash and almonds as foodstuffs that require pollination, cactus fruit - or "tunas" as they are also called - are another source of food that requires pollinators.

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It is almost impossible to look into a cactus flower and not find a bee. Most of them are covered with copious amounts of pollen.

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The flowers of the cactus genus Opuntia even have a special mechanism that causes the stamens to move when they are touched. You can see it in action in this video.

The movement of the stamens is thought to add more pollen to any pollinators that enter the flower.

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A layperson might say it's almost like the bee is getting a "hug" from the flower.

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The end result is that the flowers are pollinated and produce lovely red fruit that make delicious jelly and syrup.

Even if they aren't consumed by humans, some 75% of flowering plants need an animal to carry pollen from flower to flower. Pollination is an incredibly important service that we need to be aware of and support.

What are you doing to celebrate pollinator week?
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Wings of Life is also available on DVD/Bluray.


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