Ruellia malaca

Seeing bat-pollinated Acanths in the field is like a welcoming to paradise (better than the ladies with grape leaves, I’m convinced). I could sit night after night in full relaxation mode, watching for these elusive pollinators.

Ruellia malaca is endemic to northern South America. Flowers open (and anthers dehisce) just after nightfall, and corollas fall in the morning. Note the starkness of the calyces and bracts (lighted photo), making these plants presumably more “visible” to nocturnal visitors. Manuel and I measured several flowers at night, not long after anthesis, and found that they contained over 200 milliliters of nectar. REMARKABLE – you could spread this stuff on your toast!

This species definitely merits further study – be the one!

Wild collected, Venezuela, Tripp & Luján #464 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp

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