What a treat discovering the Philodendron Selloum preparing to be fertilized. I was out there at night and couldn’t believe the transformation. Please view the video and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Please view the photos with the PicLens for the best clarity and to make sure you don’t miss any of the photos.
The reproductive organ consists of a spadix grown at the center of a reproductive layer called the spathe. The spathe is sometimes mistaken to be a flower, but it is really a modified leaf that serves to protect the spadix. The spadix is divided into three sections: fertile male flowers at the tip, sterile male flowers at the center, and fertile female flowers toward the end of the flower chamber. The sterile male flowers in the mid-section serve to prevent self-fertilization and to produce heat. Pollination is done by a Cyclocephala beetle species. The sterile male flowers produce and maintain a constant temperature that is 30°C above that of the environment during the two days the entire flower structure is open. Interestingly, P.selloum metabolizes fat, instead of carbohydrate, to fuel this process. This feature indicates a possible evolutionary convergence where this plant species and animal species derived similar mechanisms to utilize fat reserves for energy consumption. The main reason for raising and maintaining the flower’s temperature is for volatilizing and dispersing insect attracting odors. The constant high heat production increases the distance that the scent can be picked up by the beetle, and increases the probability of pollination. Additionally, the heat creates a hospitable climate that helps to activate the beetle once it is inside the flower. This will also increase the probability of pollination.