High-mag pollen photos highlight the invisible beauty of plants' reproductive spritz

Marilyn sez, "Until 375,000 years ago, plants had be by physically close to each other in order to reproduce. Pollen changed all that. From the article by Rob Dunn in the Dec. issue of National Geographic:"

Update: not sure about Marylin's source for the 375k year stat above, but it looks like pollen is at least as old as the late Devonian

In the 300,000 pollen-bearing plant species on Earth, there are 300,000 different forms of pollen. The great variety in colors, shapes, and textures of the grains has evolved in accordance with each plant's biological particulars. Beetle-pollinated plants tend to have smooth, sticky pollen, the better to adhere to the lumbering beetles' backs. Plants pollinated by fast-moving bees or flies may have spiny pollen that lodges easily between the insects' hairs. Plants pollinated by bigger animals, such as bats, sometimes have bigger pollen, though not always -- perhaps not even most of the time. In the details of pollen's variety, more remains to be explained than is understood.
A friend with allergies once compared living through high-pollen-count days as "being the involuntary star in a vegetage-kingdom bukkake movie." I haven't been able to think of pollen the same way since.

Love Is in the Air (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. I think you may be an order of magnitude or two out in the age of pollen. I think the late Devonian period has the first record of pollen.

  2. These. These are the faces of my nemesi. These are the reasons I hold such a strong dislike for Spring!

  3. The jury is out on the origin of pollen. It was once thought to be 80 million years ago but some people reckon it could be much older, like 220 million years.

  4. Those are scanning electron micrographs…black and white only. Color was added later, thus at least partly imaginary. Nat Geo should have stated that.

    1. >Color was added later,

      quite a deal later. probably related to the “<font color=”red”>Update: not sure about the …. ” at the top.

  5. In the Early Cretaceous by Al Purdy

    “They came overnight
    a hundred million years ago
    The first flowers ever.
    A new thing under the sun
    invented by plants.

    It must have been around 7AM
    when a shrew-like mammal stumbled out
    of its dark burrow and peered near-sightedly
    at the first flower with a expression close to amazement
    and decided it wasn’t dangerous…”

    It still brings a tear to my eye whenever I listen to Purdy read this.

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