Science news — A plant that times its pollination to the full moon, plus 3 talks on plant behavior

Photo: Kristina Bolinder

Ephedra foeminea and its pollination drops. (Photo: Kristina Bolinder)

Just this month, a pair of scientists from the University of Stockholm released a report detailing some fascinating plant behavior — once a year, in the month of July, a shrub in Greece takes advantage of the full moon to get nocturnal insects to pollinate it. The plant, Ephedra foeminea, hijacks the light of the full moon to transform itself into a glistening signal to potential pollinators, releasing sweet, reflective “pollination drops” to entice these insects to keep the species going.

For years, biologists Catarina Rydin and Kristina Bolinder searched to understand the shrub’s pollination tactics, something a bit more complicated than many of its relatives, writes National Geographic‘s Ed Yong. (Watch Ed’s talk on parasites here.)

(Footage from Stefano Mancuso's TEDxGranVíaSalon talk)

(Footage from Stefano Mancuso’s TEDxGranVíaSalon talk)

For more strange and genius plant behavior, three talks on smart plants:

The secret language of flowers | Heather Whitney | TEDxSalford
At TEDxSalford, biologist Heather Whitney sheds light on the tactics flowers use to exploit their world, from transforming their look to manipulating their scent.

Eavesdropping on plants | Jack Schultz | TEDxMU
“Plants are exquisitely attuned to their environment,” says plant scientist Jack Schultz. In this talk at TEDxMU, he describes how plants interact with their friends, enemies and others to protect themselves and to get their way.

Are plants conscious? | Stefano Mancuso | TEDxGranVíaSalon
Plants are highly-sensitive organisms, says neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso. They detect and react to a litany of chemical and physical parameters, from gravity to sound vibrations, and they do a lot more than most of us assume. In this fascinating talk from TEDxGranViaSalon, Mancuso explores the remarkable world of plant intelligence, sharing stories of plants that fight, give up, make choices and get social.

1 Comment

  1. The claim of a lunar influence on pollination in Ephedra foeminea is based on only 3 data points. For a different interpretation of the same data, see

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