Anemophily [ani-MA-filly] describes plants that are pollinated by wind.
Most plants are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and wasps, along with occasional bats, beetles, and birds. These pollinators are responsible for the lion’s share of our harvests by carrying sticky pollen from one flower to another.
In one out of ten cases, the wind carries pollen from plant to plant.
Very often, wind pollination augments pollination by pollinators. This is important information if you grow any of these anemophilous plants and want a harvest.
Characteristics of wind-pollinated plants
This is one of those cases where you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Most plants invest a lot of energy and resources into attracting pollinators. They produce chemicals with enticing aromas, construct flashy, intricate flowers, and crank out sugary nectar. Anemophilous plants don’t need to go to all that trouble. Even the size and stickiness of pollen grains are reduced in wind-pollinated plants. The pollen of these plants is so small that it can be captured by a bee’s electrostatic field. [There’s a lot of it flying around at certain times of the year.] That is why honey can contain ragweed pollen even though honey bees generally do not visit ragweed flowers. Bees do visit corn tassels and other grains.
Structurally, these plants tend to have long, exposed stamens and feathery stigmas. These are used to dispense and collect pollen, respectively.
If you are allergic to pollen, it’s most likely pollen from anemophilous plants.
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