Friday, October 12, 2012

Ochna Kirkii - A Mickey Mouse Flower

Ochna Kirkii is one of those interesting flowers that displays dual facades;  a mantle of yellow follows by red. This 'change of clothing' is one of Nature's play on preserving its lineage. Firstly, by an assurance of the stage of pollination (yellow flowers) and secondly the stage of fruit dispersal (red  floral-like calyx) by insects.
The yellow five-petaled flower opens up to reveal numerous fine filament-like stamens around a white stigma. It last about 2-3 days before it fades. The five pale green calyx seen behind the petals have an important role to play further on.

A spent yellow flower is seen on the left while the one on the right is in a more advance state of development where the chilly red calyx have formed and persisted. The stigma is still seen protruding from it. 
This bug has no appreciation for the flowers. It clambered irreverently all over before deciding to rest with hind legs astride them. Talk about 'casting pearls at swine'.

Some shrivelled yellow petals can still be seen on the red 'flowers' (actually are sepals and calyx) which open up to reveal one fruit or ...

several green ones on the dome-shaped base of each 'floral calyx'.

The green fruits took on a yellowish-red tinge before ...

turning jet black when ripe. When two fruits are seen together they look like Mickey mouse's ears. Seedlings sprout easily from these seeds and is the main form of propagation. I have several large shrubs derived this way.

The calyx are thick-fleshed and last long on the shrub.

Even when totally devoid of fruits, the calyx stood out, looking outlandish and striking. 

Little deeds are like little seeds, they grow to flowers or to weeds. 
- Daniel D. Palmer 

Leaves are elliptic with bristle-toothed margins. This flower fly held the edge of a leaf for security. I've noticed many insects doing this while appearing to be perching nonchalantly. It is strange for them to do so as they have wings and can always fly away.

Young leaves are coppery in colour. A busy ant scrambling around must be on a purposeful mission.

The same type of looks-challenged bug comes on the prowl.

It scrambled unceremoniously over the buds looking for some undetermined  critters or objects. A protuberance on the abdomen of this bug seems to be used as a fulcrum for stability.

Posted from Cork, Ireland (This is the second week of my one-month sojourn in Ireland)

Ps - This is a re-published post. Actually, I published this post yesterday, but an error occured and it reverted back to draft, thus the dates of comments by Rosemary and Robin are not in chronological order.

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