Nature Notes

Yellow Pollen Pants

By Sydney Chandler

After the recent rainy streak, the Arboretum buzzes with activity. The buzzing includes human traffic as well as pollinators who travel from flower to flower in an excited frenzy. Following these pollinators on their travels prompts exploration into the pollination process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAButterfly visits an attractive flower

Visitors to the Arboretum are lucky to observe insect pollination on many flowering plants. These plants feature characteristics that are designed to attract pollinators and even direct them to the anther where they pick up pollen. It is likely that human visitors are attracted to these same characteristics: brightly colored flower petals with bullseye-like patterns and sweet scents.


The Fairy Tale Pink Daylily’s giant colorful petals make a great landing zone. For those interested in smaller flowers, the Strawberry Seduction yarrow gives clear visual directions to efficiently locate the prized pollen. Many pollinators are able to see the ultraviolet spectrum, so flower colorings often hold even more intrigue for them. If you were a pollinator, which flowers would attract you?


When pollinators find attractive plants, they land and collect pollen from the anther. Some bees at the Arboretum have comical bright yellow pollen pants on as they move from one flower to the next. As they move around a flower, they drop some of the pollen on the sticky surfaces of the stigma – pollination has occurred! Pollinators also benefit in this process by collecting sweet nectar from many flowers.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATiny pollinator on Hydrangea flowers

 Pollinators at the Arboretum come in a range of shapes and sizes to cater to the diversity of plants. With careful observation, visitors will find some very small pollinators! How many pollinators can you find? As you watch, can you predict which flower will be next on their route?

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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