Wind pollination (also called 'Anemophily') describes the
process of the transfer of pollen from one individual plant to another,
whereby the pollen is carried by air currents.
Plants may be 'gymnosperms') (non-flowering) – common in grasses and grains, or 'angiosperms' (these have flowers). However, any flowers produced are not scented, nor do they produce nectar.
What is the difference between wind and insect pollinated plants?
In contrast with insect pollinated plants, wind pollinated plants:
- are not scented - there is no need to attract insects with scent.
- have no nectar (an important food reward for bees and other pollinating insects).
- they have small, inconspicuous or dull petals - there is no need to attract insects with bright colours.
- these plants produce a lot of pollen to increase the chances of
pollination. It is also very, very light in texture, so that it is
easily blown on the wind currents.
produced by these plants is of very low nutritional benefit to insects. It has low protein content, and usually will only be gathered by them
when other pollen sources are scarce.
Important physical characteristics of wind pollinated flowers:
- Male part of the flowers (anther and filament - which together are
called the 'stamen') are designed to expose pollen to the wind - in this
way, pollen can easily be blown by air currents.
The filaments are
often long (or at least dangly), with anthers dangling on the end, thus
exposing the pollen to the air currents.
- Female parts of flowers (stigma) are long and feathery, and so they are ideally designed to capture
the pollen as it is blown on the currents.
List of wind pollinated plants
Wind pollinated plants include:
Many important trees are also wind-pollinated.
So in summary...
Wind pollinated plants are adapted to ensure that grains of pollen can
easily be carried by the wind from male to female parts of flowers, to ensure fertilization can take place.
Interesting facts about wind pollinated plants
- The pollen of this plant group of plants is most frequently associated with symptoms of
hayfever among those sensitive to pollens.
- Wind pollinated plants are very important, and are used to make
a huge proportion of the staple foods we eat, such as bread, pastry for
pies, cornflakes and so on.
However, they are greatly enhanced by
products pollinated by insects, such as the fruit that is used in
preserves for your bread, the fruit that fills the pies, muffins and so
- Because the pollen is so light, it is possible that it can be picked up by passing insects like bees. As
bees fly through the air, their bodies become negatively charged with static
Pollen in the air can
thus stick to the furry coat of the bee, but unless the bee lands on a
female part of the the same flower species, this doesn't help the plant.
However, wind pollinated plants typically produce a lot of pollen, to increase the chances of pollination by wind in any case.
Go to main links, including insect and bee pollination.
Discover more about plant pollination, with a diagram of the process.
Flower Pollination and pollination syndromes
How are plants adapted to encourage visits from their target pollinators.
Link back from Wind Pollination to Home page.
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