UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Is there another way by which flowering plants attract animals? How does it help a plant to have an animal eat its fruit?
Question Date: 2013-01-27
Answer 1:

Plant reproduction requires both pollination and seed dispersal. The first step is pollination, and many flowering plants use colors to attract insects. Some have ultraviolet marks that can be seen by insects but are invisible to human eyes. Flowers are often shaped to provide a landing platform for visiting insects or to force them to brush against anthers and stigmas to transfer the plants pollen for pollination of other plants.

Some flowers have scent to attract insects. Many of these scents are pleasing to humans too, but not all - some flowers attract flies with a smell of rotting meat. Colors can´t be seen in the dark, so scent is important for flowers that are pollinated by night-flying insects such as moths.

Bird-pollinated flowers tend to be large and colorful, so birds can see them easily against a background of leaves. Some flowers even change color to tell birds when to visit.

Plants that fruit (and other plants with larger seeds), are greatly helped in the dispersal of the seeds through visitation by animals. Some seeds are eaten by the animal, particularly when they are hidden inside of a fruit; in the case of fruit, the plants provide a nutritious reward in return for the seeds being taken away by the animal, run through its digestive system, and then deposited elsewhere where a new plant may grow. The animal is attracted to the fruit most often by its color or odor. After eating the fruit, the animal then becomes a seed dispersal agent and allows the plant´s seeds to be taken away and planted elsewhere so more plants can grow.


Answer 2:

Edible fruits entice an animal to move the plant's seeds as part of the process of eating and excreting it - which is useful for plants as they are otherwise immobile.

Note that some plants also entice animals to cache their seeds through the edibility of the seeds themselves. Nuts fall into this category.


Answer 3:

Flowering plants typically attract animals via colors (visible and in some cases UV!), scents, and chemical signals. When animals eat a plant's fruits, it helps disperse the seeds of the plant (via the animal droppings, etc.). This is good for the plant because it has a chance to grow in areas it otherwise might not have, since plants don't walk!



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use