Hindi cinema of the 70s secretly taught us the concept of pollination! As kids, we used to wonder why the flowers brushed against each other every time the actors went for a kiss? Now we know that the pollen from the ‘stamen’ was being transferred to the ‘pistil’. Well, you get the picture. Kids in the western world were told about the ‘Birds and the Bees’. Now we know how the birds and the bees help in pollination.
Just like every other living being, plants also need to propagate. They need to make and spread seeds for the survival of their species. Flowers on a plant contain male and female parts. Flowers invite bees and insects to help transfer the pollen to the pistil (egg).
Flowers with both male and female parts:
These have the stamen and the pistil in the same flower. It is also known as the perfect flower. Bees / insects and wind can help transfer the pollen to the stigma (the sticky part of the pistil).
Plants with only female or male parts:
These are plants with a gender. If you happen to plant only males (or females), forget seeing (and eating) any babies. Few varieties of Papaya plants have gender.
Next time you go to a nursery and ask for a Papaya, the mali would tell you, ” Jode lene padenge (you need to buy a ‘pair’, male and female)”.
Plants with separate male and female flowers:
Your Karela (Bitter Melon) / Lauki (Bottle Gourd) and other cucurbits fall in this category.
It is easy to identify Female and Male Karela flowers.
Bees and insets will help transfer the pollen. The fruit behind the female flowers will then grow to a fruit. Otherwise, it will dry out. Now you know why Bees are so important! Its quite common for these plants not to produce fruit in an urban area where there is no help from bees or insects.
You can help these plants make out :-). Take the male flower and brush it gently against the female as you remember Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. This kiss of love will bear fruit.