Mashed potatoes with gravy—a classic combo for the Thanksgiving table. What role do pollinators play in this carb-a-licious dish?
The part of the potato that we eat is not a fruit, but a tuber. Pollinators aren’t directly needed for obtaining these tubers, but they ARE essential to allow the plant to breed and maintain genetic diversity.
If you read our previous post about cranberries, you might remember a little trick called buzz pollination. Potatoes are members of the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes and eggplants. The flowers in this family can be a little hard to get to know—but bumble bees have the key. Perching on a blossom, the bee vibrates its flight muscles rapidly, which shakes the flower and releases the pollen onto the bee’s body. This pollen will be transferred to a different flower during subsequent visits.
Whether you prefer russet, fingerling or gold---baked, roasted or mashed—potatoes are a holiday favorite. Let’s bee thankful!
Photo credit: Pixabay.com
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden Knowledge Series