Alpine Garden Society

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Meeting January 17 2013

Alpines and their pollinators

The January meeting of the North Lancashire Group of the Alpine Garden Society was presented by member Ann Kitchen who gave a lecture entitled ‘Alpines and their pollinators’. The digital presentation was of alpines in the Swiss Alps with bases at Val d’Ainiviers near Zermatt and at Interlaken and Lake Brienz area with access to Val d’Herens.  Visits were made to Hasliberg (1200m) and to the hay meadows above Evolene (1300m) also to Zinal (2200m) and the foot of the Moiry glacier at about 2700m  which enabled alpines to be seen just below the snowline.
Ann proceeded to describe pollination methods used in nature and these included:-
  • Air – used by trees, when large quanities of pollen was available. Most air pollinators have separate male and female flowers, an example being Swiss Willow
  • Water – for aquatic plants
  • Insects – used by most dicotyledens when the pollen ripens first and insects are attracted by colour, scent and nectar. Alpines such as Geranium sylvaticum  and Primulas use this method. Many alpines have pollen which only shows in ultra violet light and this is readily available at high altitudes where many alpines flourish. An example would be Geum reptans which also uses its parabolic shape to create a warmer environment inside the flower for pollinating insects. Pollinators include Bees, Moths, Hoverflies, Horseflies, Soldier Beetles. At higher altitudes often ants act as good pollinators.
  • Direct – used by orchids and violas
Ann later commented on plants which were Pollen Riskers  such as Mountain Avens and Hepaticas which had high seed survival rates versus Seed Riskers such as Sempervivums with low seed survival rates.
The vote of thanks for this excellent talk was given by Chairman, Frank Hoyle.
The North Lancashire Group in co-operation with the East Lancashire Group are planning an Alpine Weekend at Barton Grange Garden Centre, Brock, near Preston on March 8th/9th 2013. Further details will be available in February.

Syd Cumbus
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