The Pitcher Plant And The Bee

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The Pitcher Plant And The Bee Free Public Domain Cc0 Image

This Memorial Day weekend I went for my first visit to the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden off of Independence Boulevard in Wilmington, North Carolina. I discovered an array of pitcher plants including the species pictured Sarrancenia Leucophylla. It was fascinating how many Bumble Bees or (Class: Insecta, Order: Hymenoptera, Family: Apidae, Genus: Bombus, and unsure of this species?) were flying around the plants and even crawling into them. I began to wonder if the bees had a strictly mutualistic relationship with the pitcher plants acting solely as pollinators. Also, I saw quite a few bees get stuck in the tubes of the pitcher plant and it appeared that the pitcher plant could be acting as a predator to the bees. Were the pitcher plants luring them into their tubes to provide a source of mineral nutrients for the plant? After doing some research, I found that it is not evolutionarily beneficial for pitcher plants to consume their own pollinators, thus why they have two distinct parts for each function. The flowering part of the pitcher plant (shown in the background of the photo) is the part responsible for attracting pollinators.

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