Tuesday, May 30, 2023
HomeBotanyUnusual world of fleshy nettle fruits (Urticaceae)

Unusual world of fleshy nettle fruits (Urticaceae)

urticaceae fruit
Prime: Myrianthus arboreus, Debregeasia salicifolia, Poikilospermum suaveolens. Backside: Dendrocnide meyeniana, Urera baccifera, Touchardia latifolia.

Brightly colored or fleshy fruit should not what you’ll affiliate with nettles. Certainly neither would most botanists who examine them in a herbarium the place as soon as brightly colored intricately formed buildings are decreased to congealed darkish brown blobs. It’s due to area work, and the passion of many newbie naturalists and their cameras that their magnificence and complexity is changing into higher recognized. Fleshy-fruited nettles are discovered throughout the household, comprising in all probability 1/4 of the genera. Nettles are very creative in producing these fruits, with stalks, petals, fruiting branches or bracts being re-purposed following flowering. Though I work on nettles and so am naturally biased, I can’t consider one other plant household that has provide you with so some ways to supply a tasty morsel for a chicken or mammal, or which produces such complicated formed fruits.

dendrocnide meyeniana fig
Dendrocnide meyeniana, right here brilliantly photographed in Taiwan by Flickr consumer ted762563. I’ve inserted arrows to spotlight the tiny petals which later become the unusual clasp-shaped fruit.

Within the case of the tree from Taiwan and the Philippines, Discocnide meyeniana, the three tiny and unequal inexperienced petals round every ovary swell up right into a ghostly white cradle which probably flags the uncovered seed to potential dispersers. On this case probably a small chicken. One other species with uncommon fleshy fruits is a small tree from the Dominican Republic, Gyrotaenia microcarpa. On this species it’s the fused flowering branches which turn into fleshy, increasing in fruit to depart the seeds uncovered in small clusters on the skin, a bit like a misshapen strawberry.

gyrotaenia microcarpa crop-am-7467-dsc_2097
Gyrotaenia microcarpa fruit. The fused flowering branches swell up and turn into white, the seeds changing into black making a distinction which presumably attracts small birds or mammals to feed.

In a number of species fruits designed to draw shoppers even have stinging hairs. That is the case of the Latin American shrub Urera baccifera. On this species, not solely do the tiny inexperienced petals turn into white and swell as much as conceal the seed, however their flowering branches and stalks turn into vibrant magenta and fleshy, curling protectively over the white berries brandishing hypodermic stinging hairs. This means that not any animal is welcome to take the fruit. No matter feeds on the berry might want to delicately free it  with out getting stung.

Urera baccifera 13749176934_2bf4780896_b
Urera baccifera, widespread all through Latin America and well-known for its brightly colored but additionally stinging fruit clusters.

Most likely the strangest wanting fruit is that of Procris, a gaggle of succulent species from Asia, the Pacific and Africa. In these vegetation the flower stalks all fuse to type a swollen foot. In fruit, along with the decreased petals on the ovary’s base, this turns into fleshy and when moist the entire construction is roofed by a thick slime. It’s arduous to think about what sort of animal this fruit is aiming to draw!

procris wightiana am6439-2
Procris wightiana from Southeast Asia. The cup-like buildings on the base of the seeds are the decreased petals which have fused and turn into fleshy.


I hope that this very temporary and subjective survey of nettle fruits demonstrates how progressive and shocking vegetation (and nettles particularly) might be.



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