Trigger happy

Michael Matthews

Sydney, Australia

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Trigger plant .. Stylidium graminifolium.

This Australian wildflower is so small that most people would only notice the bright pink colour without seeing the amazing delicate trigger mechanism designed to transfer pollen.
The trigger mechanism is activated when an insect lands on the flower.

There were a few of these on the Hanging Rock walking track (Buradoo fire trail, I think) in the Blue Mountains National Park, Australia. This is about 1000 metres above sea level.

They love the sandy soil in the Blue Mountains.

For the macro groups this flower is about 1 cm wide.

Photographed with a Canon 400D.

Family: Stylidiaceae
Distribution: Widespread from coast to alpine areas of eastern states.
Common Name: Grass trigger plant
Derivation of Name: Stylidium…From Greek stylos, a column, referring to the united stamens and style.
graminifolium…From Latin gramineus, grass like, and folium a leaf.

Stylidium is a genus of about 130 species, most of which occur in Australia with a few being found in Asia. They are known as “trigger plants” because of the unique, irritable flower column which is triggered by insect visitors. The trigger remains cocked until an insect probes the flower and then springs upwards and deposits pollen on the head or back of the insect which then transfers the pollen to another flower.

Stylidium graminifolium is the most widespread species. It is a tufted, grass-like plant with leaves from 6-20 cm long and about 4 mm wide. The small, pink (occasionally white) flowers are about 10 mm in diameter and occur on stalks up to 40 cm high from the centre of the grassy clump. The flowers have 5 petals, although only 4 are conspicuous with the fifth being reflexed and located behind the "trigger’ which protrudes from the throat of the floral tube. The trigger consists of 2 stamens and the style fused together into a column.

All About Flowers, Sept 2010.
Wildflowers of the World, Sept 2011.

501 views as of Nov 11, 2011.

Artwork Comments

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