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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Centropogon nigricans

Centropogon nigricans
Anoura fistulata

A huge thank you to Dr. Nathan Muchhala for sharing his photographs of a mammalian pollinator in action to round out the pollinator series.

The flower of the plant species, Centropogon nigricans, is exclusively pollinated by the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata. In other words, this is an example of obligate pollination. It's also thought to be a prime example of co-evolution (PDF). Dr. Muchhala described Anoura fistulata in a 2005 paper, so this bat species was unknown to science as recently as three or four years ago. Native to the outer slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, Anoura fistulata has the longest tongue relative to its body length of any mammal -- so long, in fact, that it is necessary for it to retract its tongue into its rib cage.

The story of the discovery was widely covered in the press in late 2006, so here are a few places to spend some time reading: Floral Long-Necks and Bat Sippers via the Human Flower Project, the transcript of a Nature podcast with Dr. Muchhala about Anoura fistulata, and A New World Record from Bat Conservation International.

Dr. Muchhala has a series of photographs of bat-pollinated flowers (and related bats) here: Bat Pollination in Cloud Forests.

As for the plant, Centropogon nigricans, there's not much to be found about it online, other than what is written about it in relation to this story, including: "Specialization on one species of pollinator is exceedingly rare in angiosperms, and Centropogon nigricans is the only example known in flowers pollinated by bats." The genus Centropogon has a distribution range that extends from Mexico south into much of South America (including Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina). Of the 230 described species, 65 are found in Ecuador.

14 Comments

phillip commented:


...that my son...is one heck of a tongue...!
WOW....!

Deb Christmas commented:

Incredible!

Ginny (in Maine) commented:

Wonderful and amazing. Thanks so much for this pollinator series - hope you'll consider a sequel sometime.

CWick commented:

AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing....We don't often hear of the wonderful capabilities of bats OR get to see it!

Scott McGillivray commented:

Wow, Gene Simmons look out.....

van commented:

Incredible!

Rob B commented:

Quite impressive, but also quite necessary for that job.

elizabeth a airhart commented:

wonders never cease now do they

bev commented:

What a spectacular finale to the pollinator series; you have outdone yourself, Daniel! Many thanks, again, for both the picture and the education.

phillip commented:

two different genre promising their existence to each other...a love that crosses lines...till the end of time

Lynne commented:

Wow. You saved the best for last. This is simply amazing.

Mary Ann Donegan commented:

-- removed irrelevant comment -- Daniel

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Mary Ann - the place to ask questions like that is the garden forums. See link right above the Post a comment box.

kalpana commented:

Amazing ,Its very rare and wonerfull.as a botanist i am pleased 2 c this.

Comments are closed.

If you have a gardening question, the best place to ask is on the UBC Botanical Garden Forums. Thank you!

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