A GROUNDBREAKING study by the University of Portsmouth has found that flowers may produce nectar to protect their reproductive parts.
The study suggests that ‘high-energy honey’ produced by flowers to entice bees and other insects might protect other critical parts of the flower such as the stamen and stigma.
Professor of ecology and evolution Scott Armbruster said: ‘Contrary to the accepted wisdom, the role of nectar seems in this instance to not be just about attracting and rewarding pollinating insects.
‘It seems nectar and nectaries, the glands which produce it, attract herbivores that would otherwise feed on other flower parts. Thus the nectar and nectaries may be acting as a decoy.’
Prof Armbruster worked with scientists from other universities in Wuhan, China, Calgary, Canada and the Fairylake Botanical Garden in Shenzen, China to study the role of nectar for the research published in Biology Letters.
It was concluded that flowers with a higher reproductive importance are protected by having nectaries and nectar.