The Buzz

For a number of plants, including such delicious Solanaceae (nightshades) as tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, and peppers, the frequency of a bumblebee’s buzzing is what releases pollen. The bumble grabs ahold of the anthers and vibrates the pollen loose. Honeybees, who get more credit they they deserve, don’t do this; they pick up exposed pollen, but they can’t unlock the anthers of plants that require the buzz. Here’s a short video on buzz pollination.A closer look at the flower of what I think is Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense), a delightfully weedy nightshade, shows the horn-like anthers that the native bees’ buzz  shakes open.

As you can see from the linked video, a tuning fork can also do it. The internet — oh, you crazy internet! —  says that a vibrator and an electric toothbrush will also do the trick, I mean, if you wanted to do it personally….

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