28 January 2012

Puck amongst the pollen

I've spent the past couple of hours chuckling over Julie Heyward's delightfully pin point comment to yesterday's "Cross-pollinations" post:

Cross-pollination is interesting because there are actually two evolutionarily diverse, equally important components to the process: first the male/female thing has to happen, but then the seed has to be moved, usually by being eaten and then shat out by some cooperative creature at a suitable distance. We thank you.

As always, she knows exactly how to deflate the pomposity of my self agrandisement.

When I used the cross pollination metaphor, I had in mind the literal, restricted meaning of the term: where a transmission vector (the cross pollinator) intervenes in "the male/female thing", transferring pollen from one location “to fertilize ... another flower or plant” (OED). A sort of Puck figure, a "shrewd and knavish sprite" scrambling the DNA before the formation of the gamete, in other words, rather than a sort of nature's own FedEx truck distributing the gamete to a new geographic location after it has become.

Secretly, I had a more specifically cuddly image of myself. Not just any old transmission vector, me: not just biotic, but apis mellifera, a cheery if somewhat dim honey bee. There I am, in the photograph (courtesy of Judith Acland) above left: entomophilously bumbling through the stamens of one flower to emerge disreputably covered in pollen. Moving on to another where I lurch carelessly against the stigma. Usually leaving a mess behind me but, just sometimes, every now and then, accidentally producing the circumstances in which a new flower can be born...

A self image which, of course, thoroughly deserved to be punctured by laughter.

If you haven't looked since yesterday, by the way, Julie has since put up another two Euclid propositions.

1 comment:

Dr. C said...

I suppose you claim the stigmata also...