Pollination explanation

Pollination explanation

Hooray! Our male and female mountain peppers are flowering and spring seems like a good time to talk about pollination. Like Kiwi fruit, Carob and Pistachio, Mountain Peppers (Tasmannia lanceolata) are dioecious, which means having male and female sex organs on separate plants. If you want them to fruit you need to have BOTH the male and female plant in proximity.
Mountain Pepper Flower

This is not to be confused with monoecious plants which have separate male and female flowers on the one plant. Edible examples of this are corn, walnut, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers. It’s easy to recognise the female flowers on something like a melon as it has the swollen ovary part below the flower, like a pregnant belly. On the corn plant the male parts are the tassels at the very top of the plant and the female parts are the silks attached to the corn cob. It’s important to be able to recognise the male and female flowers if you want to hand pollinate to ensure a good crop, or for seed saving.

Sometimes people confuse the above with a plant needing to cross pollinate with a different variety. Apples, pears, most plums, most cherries and hazelnuts are self incompatible and all need a different but compatible variety of the same fruit. This usually comes down to one that flowers at the same time (early, mid, late or extra late flowering season). For example a Red Delicious apple can cross pollinate with a Pink Lady, Granny Smith or Red Fuji apple but not with a Jonathon or Cox Orange Pippin.

Other fruit trees like apricots, peaches, nectarines, quinces, figs, medlars, mulberries and most persimmons are self fertile and just require an insect to transfer pollen from one flower to another. So simple!

To keep us on our toes, avocados add another dimension! Glowinski describes them as. Protogynous diurnally synchronous dichotomy! I think we should offer you a discount if you can say that fast 10 times! Briefly this means the syncronised opening and closing of the seperate female and male flower parts (on the one flower) are affected by warmer temperature and self pollination becomes very limited to impossible. Varieties have been divided into A types and B types depending on the opening time of the female and male flowering parts. In warmer climates you need to make sure you have compatible A or B type to ensure both male and female flower parts are open at the same time to allow pollination. In cooler climates the windows stays open longer and self pollination can occur. School is out on whether Melbourne falls into the warm or cooler climate and whether you need one or two plants.

mountain-pepper-flower 2
Female mountain pepper flower

All of the above methods will benefit from a diverse garden with various flowering plants and water to attract insect pollinators.

So there you have it. Or some of it. How could a gardener possibly ever get bored!?


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