Friday, 13 October 2017

Kniphofia caulescens

This imposing and unusual plant is Kniphofia caulescens, a very late-flowering red hot poker.

It flowers in October and I have noticed this week that it is very popular with the bees.  At first there were only one or two on the seven flower heads but word spread and the numbers have increased to a couple of dozen at a time.

The bees climb through a forest of stamens to get right inside the flowers and spend up to a minute in each flower, suggesting there is a lot of nectar to be had.  They also visit only a few flowers before returning to base.

This photo shows a bee with a drop of what I assume is nectar.

This is a bee's eye view of the flowers and appears to show large drops of nectar in several of the flowers.

Some of the bees also collect pollen.

Even those not collecting pollen spend a lot of time grooming, suggesting they are getting covered in pollen and/or nectar as they get right inside the flowers.

At this time of year there are fewer flowers for the bees to visit so I expect they welcome the appearance of this exotic South African plant.  I read that in its home country it is mainly pollinated by birds (Drakensberg siskins, yellow canaries and malachite sunbirds) and produces very large amounts of dilute hexose-rich nectar which the birds prefer.

1 comment:

  1. What an autumn banquet! Absolutely exquisite photography.