Plant Pollination in Australia

In Australia, like elsewhere, there are different kinds of plant pollination.

Plants need to get pollinated so not only do they grow their sexual parts in blossoms, but also plenty of sweet nectar and sweet fruits, to attract pollinators and seed spreaders.

 
World wide, bees and butterflies are the most common pollinators, but in Australia, pollinators also include birds and small animals. 

Little Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus Lepidus), Tasmania, Australia
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Australian Plants - Wind Pollination vs Insect Pollinator
Nowhere else in the world have plants adapted to as large pollinators as in Australia. In a European pine forest for example, wind is good enough a pollinator because another pine tree is close by and easy for pollen to reach.

In more species-rich environments, random pollinator like wind becomes useless because with many different plant species, chances are the pollen doesn’t end up on the right plant. There, insects are good pollinators because they tend to specialise on same plant species and so carry the pollen where it’s meant to go.

Little Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus Lepidus), Tasmania, Australia
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Australian Plant Pollination - Banksia Flower and Bottle Brush Flower
Insects do eat nectar from plants even in Australia, but Australian plants don’t rely on insects as main pollinators. Australian plants grow large and strong flowers like banksias and bottle brush trees, to support – birds and even small mammals! For Australian trees that sometimes are far away from each other, birds and small mammals are much better pollinators than insects – they carry more pollen and fly farther.

Little Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus Lepidus), Australia
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Flower Pollination by Birds and Mammals
Not one single tree in Europe has adapted to pollination by a bird, let alone mammals, while in Australia this has even given them their names: sugar glider, honey possum, blossom-bat. Honeyeaters is Australia’s largest bird family, and many species of possums, gliders, bats and marsupial mice feed on nectar from trees and are the main pollinators of trees.

Little Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus Lepidus), Tasmania, Australia
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Flower Power - Bats and Noisy Miners
This of course gives the trees some impressive flowers, but it can also be a risky business. Birds and bats get much more aggressive than insects about their feeding territory. Noisy miners for example, Australian native honeyeaters, are aggressive birds. They form groups about 200 and chaise all other birds away from their territory. But trees need treatment by more than one pollinator species. Noisy miners don’t eat enough of the sap-sucking psyllids, and so the trees can die.



















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