|E. americanum - all major points of anatomy visible|
Note that the anthers are of varying lengths and sizes. They look red here because they have not yet opened to expose the pollen (this flower had opened the same morning that I took the photo).
This flower blooms extremely rarely; some estimate that only about 1/60 plants will bloom in a given year. My observation suggests that this number could be lower in some places, such as where I took these photographs at QUBS. The plants take several years to achieve reproductive maturity, and once achieving it will bloom only occasionally.
|E. americanum - note the heavily recurved sepals|
This plant is particularly suitable for certain types of pollination studies where one wants to know which individuals are successfully pollinating other individuals. This is because there is a naturally occurring difference in pollen colour in some of these individuals; the general population has yellow pollen, while occasionally an individual has brown pollen. This allows researchers to take an individual with brown pollen, plant it in amongst individuals with brown pollen, and actually track exactly where the brown individual's pollen ends up going. There are techniques to do this with plants which don't have different flower morphs, but they generally entail putting a fluorescent dye on the pollen and this does somewhat alter its characteristics, eg weight (and is therefore a potential confound).