Dear Esteemed Botanists,
I have been reading an old Scientific American article entitled
“Water-Pollinated Plants” (October 1993), which describes a set of
plants that uses water as a vector for pollen transfer over distance.
In the article is the following statement after a description of the
discovery of this mechanism by a scientist named Cavolini in 1787:
“Cavolini’s discovery was remarkable. Because water causes the pollen
of terrestrial plants to burst, botanists had regarded the aquatic
environment as inimical to pollination.”
Can anyone comment on the notion that water causes terrestrial pollen
to burst? My college botany books are silent on the phenomenon. Is
this referring to longer-term soaking of pollen, perhaps? Certainly
terrestrial pollen, in my experience, frequently comes into contact
with water in the form of rain, dew, and lawn sprinklers. Soggy pollen
might well be less mobile; but will it actually burst?
I turn to this valued forum for expert advice.
P.S. In case anyone would like a scan of the referenced article,
please send me a note, off-list - email@example.com.
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