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How Cyads Polinate

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Ninety-eight percent of gymnosperms are wind-pollenated, and scientists thought cycads, which have separate male and female plants, also relied on wind for pollination. New research indicates that insects are involved in pollen transfer for some cycad species. Male plants produce pollen which would account for the presence of insects looking for nourishment but not involved in moving that pollen to female cycad cones. But scientists found that in one specific species of cycad, the male plants increased the temperature in their cones to an extent that the thrips gathering pollen became so uncomfortable that they left. This particular species of now pollen-covered thrips entered the normal temperature female cones hoping to find more pollen; leaving behind fertilized eggs, In other species, snout nosed weevils were responsible for pollen transfer, fertilization is another step.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.