by Sriraksha Bhagavan – Poinsettia is an amazing and beautiful plant.
For many pollinators and nectar feeders, this plant is a good place to dine in. The interesting feature of this plant is that during the flowering season, the leaves of the Poinsettia undergo modification to look like a flower, and the so-called petals of the flowers are actually the modified colorful leaves,called bracts. The actual flower is the yellow nectar filled cup-shaped structure which lies in the center of these bracts. This modification is essential to Poinsettia as it is a short photoperiod plant, and it flowers generally during Christmas time where the length of the day is comparatively shorter than the nights. Therefore, this plant has to get its job(pollination) done faster. Hence, to attract pollinators, the leaves become colorful and the flower secretes nectar during flowering season. And just look how many different kinds of insects visit this plant, be it a fly, wasp, honey bee, ant, butterfly or a bug! It looks like every insect wants to make a visit to this plant, and not just pollinators. There are also silent predators like the preying mantis, crab spider and jumping spider, waiting to grab the pollinators when they are busy feeding.
And this makes me wonder, what a great loss will it be to our ecosystem if we lose a plant of this kind!
It would be good if we could have these kind of plants in our gardens or backyards as they make our garden look pretty and also would create a tiny shelter for these cute little insects. (Until and unless you don’t freak out seeing so many them!!)