Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guest Blog: Yunal Sapir and The Shy Red Bride

Anemone coronaria
Dr. Yuval Sapir is Director of the Tel Aviv University Botanical Gardens

The red-crowned anemone, Anemone coronaria, is one of the most common and beloved wildflowers in Israel. It's Hebrew name, Kalanit, is from the Hebrew word for bride, dressed beautifully in a red dress. From January through March, red carpets of anemones cover the hills in the Mediterranean region, with beetles buzzing in and out the flowers. These are glaphyrid beetles that are adapted to forage pollen and to mate on the red, bowl-shaped anemone flowers. The beetles are attracted by the large amount of pollen in the numerous anthers of the flower. While eating or mating inside the flowers, their body is covered with pollen grains that transferred on to the next flower.

Anemone flowers live for two weeks, but only in the start is the stigma receptive to accept pollen grains. Although the flowers are hermaphrodite, containing both sexes in the same plant, the female (stigma) is matures earlier than the male (pollen), effectively mandating that sex has to be between two different flowers. When the male function is active in the flower, there are other younger flowers that have their stigma ready. Interestingly, during its two-weeks life time, the anemone's flower keeps growing. Young, female flowers are small and perfectly red. Later on, the male flower is larger and also develops white ring around the center where the pollen is available for the pollinating beetles. Of-course, the male function of the flower benefits from being prominent on the white background. The more seen, the more visits and the more pollen grains spread out to females. The female function, on the other side, needs very little number of visits, because one pollen grain fertilizing an ovule is enough to make a seed. So no need to be prominent like the male; the small red flower is just enough to get pollen. The shy female will get what it needs soon enough.


  1. what about the others . all those different colors, are they not the same . lots of purple / violet ones now the first to arrive ?Paul Moore.

    1. Hey Paul, see the previous blog post by Yuval: