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Plant pollination - how does it work?

Pollination of Plants - How Does It Actually Work?

How does the pollination of plants actually work? Without the fertilization of flowers, most plants could not produce fruit and seeds - and could not reproduce. Fortunately, nature, but above all bees, flies and countless other insects, quietly and secretly carry out this valuable work, which is essential for life on this planet. To put it simply: the less it buzzes, the fewer plants grow - and the lower the selection and quality of the food we humans eat.

In this article, I would like to briefly and concisely explain plant pollination to you - from the definition, forms, processes, animals and their pollination performance, to the importance for our lives. Let's go!

You can find a brief overview here in advance:

  1. Definition
  2. Types
  3. Animals
  4. Pollination performance
  5. Meaning
  6. Closing words

What is pollination in the plant world?

Pollination generally refers to the Transfer of pollen to the stigma of the carpel of the flower of another plant or even the same plant is meant. The pollen sticks there and fertilizes the egg cell. This process is the prerequisite for the fertilization of a plant so that it can form fruit and seeds and reproduce.₁

What types of plant pollination are there?

There are two basic types of plant pollination: cross-pollination and self-pollination. Here I would like to briefly and concisely explain how plants are usually pollinated.

One thing in advance: It is a common misconception that plants can only be fertilized by insects.

Through animals (zoophilia)

Zoophilia is a form of cross-pollination. Plants attract bees, beetles and other small animals through their striking appearance or interesting fragrances to which the pollen adheres when touched.

e.g. bees, beetles or birds

By wind (anemophilia)

Anemophilia is also a form of cross-pollination. However, countless plants are fertilized without animal involvement - namely by the wind. This blows the pollen from plant to plant. This works because wind-blooming plants Oodles of pollen and thus have a high probability of cross-pollination. Ultimately, the large amount of pollen also leads to Allergies.

e.g. grasses, stinging nettle and pine

Through water (hydrophilicity)

There is no wind in the underwater world. Instead, there are other natural forces that plants make use of. Many underwater plants grow mainly with the help of Currents and waves continued. This is also a form of cross-pollination.

e.g. algae

Notice: Many aquatic plants have their flowers on the surface of the water. This is the case, for example, with the floating buttercup. It is pollinated by insects or by self-pollination.

Through humans (antropophilia)

As was to be expected, we humans have also developed a form of cross-pollination to artificially propagate plants. Above all, in order to Faster plant breeding and not be dependent on random, natural pollination - but also out of necessity. Because the Insect mortality plays a decisive role in reducing pollination performance and thus also crop yield.

e.g. by human hand with a brush or with robots and drones; already necessary today in many parts of China (see here)

Through self-fertilization (autogamy)

Many plants are also capable of self-fertilization. They produce pollen in their anthers and transport it directly to the stigma of their own flower. This autogamous way of reproduction is therefore considered self-pollination.

e.g. blackberry, strawberry, barley, bean and pea

Which animals pollinate which plants?

Pollination of plants by animals

Wind, water, human hands - the forms of plant pollination described are relatively self-explanatory. However, pollination by animals naturally leaves the question open as to who exactly has taken on the task of pollinating plants. I have compiled a small list of animal "pollinators" for you here:

  • Wild bees (e.g. coffee, strawberries, apples, rapeseed or pears)
  • Honey bees (e.g. thyme, raspberry or wild rose)
  • Ants (e.g. buckwheat or cherries)
  • Flying (e.g. cherries, fennel or pears)
  • Wasps (e.g. ivy or brown and ragwort).
  • Butterflies (e.g. buckwheat, spring vetch or horn clover)
  • Moths (e.g. honeysuckle or buttercup)
  • Beetle (e.g. cherries or angelica)
  • Hummingbirds (e.g. fuchsias or cacti)
  • Gecko (e.g. for New Zealand flax)

In the course of evolution, insects in particular have adapted perfectly to their work in nature - and many plant species have also developed strategies to attract the animals that are able to pollinate them.

How great is the pollination power of animals?

Now we know a lot about pollination itself - but how important is this process really? Are we humans really dependent on the work of insects or the wind? Here are Meaningful facts and figures around plant pollination:

  • Up to 85 percent of agricultural yields in plant and fruit cultivation in Germany depend on pollination by bees.₂
  • Bees pollinate around 72 percent of the 100 most important crops in Germany.₂
  • In one day, a honey bee flies out up to 30 times and visits 200 - 300 flowers per flight.₃
  • The economic benefits of pollination services amount to around 2 billion euros annually in Germany and 70 billion US dollars worldwide.₄

Why is plant pollination by insects so important?

A bee pollinates a plant

Without pollination by bees, flies, beetles and other insects, only a small proportion of the wild and cultivated plant world would be able to reproduce. But especially the climate changeThe sealed, over-fertilized and poisoned soils, intensive agriculture and forestry, as well as private, grey gravel gardens, deprive the animals of their livelihood. As was to be expected, the Number of most insect species rapidly decreased and made the scenario of a world without insects more realistic.

A scenario, by the way, that has fatal consequences for natural ecosystems and for us humans. Without the pollination service provided by insects, there is less shelter and food for numerous creatures. In addition, insects themselves are an important source of food for birds, which is why their decline is also a fundamental threat to the environment. global species extinctions drives.

In addition, a large proportion of the most commonly cultivated crops rely to varying degrees on pollination by animals. For example, the Harvest yields of strawberries, cherries, coffee or rapeseed by up to 90 percent.₅

We humans are simply dependent on plant pollination by insects. And for this reason alone, we must do everything we can to ensure that the Stop insect mortality.

Plant pollination - Essential for life and survival on earth

Almost unnoticed, animals do a great job that is crucial for life on earth. The pollination of plants creates cover and shelter for animals - and a broad, plant-based food supply for all living creatures, including us humans. This makes it all the more alarming that the number of insects on the ground is falling.

What you can do about it as an individual? Here are some further articles that could make your life a little more pollinator and insect-friendly:

I hope I have been able to help you with this article about pollinating plants. Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: With a sustainably landscaped garden you can, for example, help to increase the number of insects and thus also the pollination performance. You can find out how this works in practice in the linked article!

₁ University of Hamburg: Pollination, available at [13.04.2021].

₂ Romina Rader, Ignasi Bartomeus, Lucas A. Garibaldi (2015); et al: Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination, available at [13.04.2021].

₃ Deutscher Imkerbund e.V.: Bees as pollinators - The process of pollination, available at [13.04.2021].

₄ Deutscher Imkerbund e.V.: Bienen als Bestäuber - Zahlen, die zählen - Bestäubungsleistung im Überblick, available at [13.04.2021].

₅ NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V.: Small animals with great performance, available at [13.04.2021].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

1 thought on “Bestäubung von Pflanzen – Wie funktioniert das eigentlich?”

  1. I admit it: when I read the title of this post (on trusted blogs, by the way), my first thought was, "Seriously? An article about pollination?" - And now I have to say: chapeau! I learned quite a bit and think this post is really great. Thank you for this, Christoph!

    Best regards

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