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Help solve baobab flower pollination mystery

Date: 25 November 2017 By: Andries van Zyl

The annual Baobab Blitz has come around again and everyone has the opportunity to help find answers to the pollination mystery of the baobab flower.

The question remains: What is pollinating the baobab flowers? “Bet you thought it was bats, but did you know that scientists have never seen bats visiting baobab flowers in Southern Africa?” said the Baobab Blitz organisers.

Scientists therefore need the public’s help to find out what exactly is pollinating the baobab flower. “This year, we will be adding to the data that was collected last year. Last year we found that only hawk moths were visiting baobab flowers in South Africa, but to make absolutely sure of our conclusions, we need to grow our observations and for this we need your help. If you have a baobab tree on your farm or in your garden, please register and help us find out,” said the organisers.

To register, send an e-mail to [email protected] or WhatsApp or SMS to 071 498 7551. Alternatively, register on the Baobab Blitz Facebook-page or visit the website www.vhembebiosphere.org.

“Baobabs have flowers that are big, white and open at night. They can either be pollinated by bats or hawk moths. Bats have been seen pollinating baobab flowers in East and West Africa, but have never been seen pollinating flowers in Southern Africa,” said the Baobab Blitz organisers. Baobab trees in the Soutpansberg area flower from October to December each year and the peak flowering season is in November.

What interested people need to do is set aside the evenings of 24 to 25 November and 2 to 3 December to monitor the baobab flowers. “Any baobab tree in Limpopo (Alldays, Vivo, Waterpoort, Mopane, Musina, Tshipise, Pafuri) can be monitored. Sit under one tree from 06:00 until 00:00 and record what is coming to the flower,” said the organisers.

For more information, visit the above-mentioned Facebook page or website.

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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