The Giant Amazon Waterlily, Victoria amazonica, is the largest member of the waterlily family. Each leaf can grow to two metres in diameter and can support the weight of a small child. Plants produce numerous sweet, pineapple scented, white flowers which first open during the night to reveal only the female sexual organs (carpels) and a nectar reward for their beetle pollinators. Before dawn, the flowers close trapping the beetles within. The flowers are thermogenic and maintain beetle metabolism and activity at a high level. On the second night the now pink-purple twenty-four hour old flowers open releasing their beetle captives which pick up pollen from the now matured male organs (anthers). The beetles fly off to find a female flower and so transfer and repeat the process.
Photographer: Nicholas Wray
Copyright: University of Bristol
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