Why Avocado Flowers are so Unique?
I chanced upon this flowering tree recently, and I would have ignored it had I not seen the fruits hanging nearby. They looked so ordinary and pale; it is hard to believe they grow into the fleshy nutritious fruit, Avocado. Have you seen Avocado flowers before?
All the flowers were in closed state. I scanned around for an open flower of Avocado, but didn’t find any. The macro shots too were not of much use. Later I read interesting facts about avocado flowers which explained why the flowers are in closed state. One has to spend hours studying its timings when it would be in its bloomed state.
Avocado flower is structurally and functionally very different from other flowers. It is unique. The Avocado flowers have both male and female parts. The first or female stage remains open for only 2 or 3 hours. The flower then closes and remains closed the rest of the day and that night. The following day it opens again. But now the stigma will no longer receive pollen. Instead, the flower is now shedding pollen. That is, each flower is female at its first opening, male at its second. After being open several hours the second day, the flower closes again, this time for good. If it had been successfully pollinated at the first opening, and if other conditions are right, it will develop into a delicious fruit, the Avocado.
This very tricky flowering behavior makes the pollination rare and impacts the fruit production. Most of the flowers fall without producing fruit. Trees adapt naturally to maximise the likelihood of cross-pollination. Some trees will open first in the morning as functionally female, close and then reopen the next afternoon as functionally male. Some other trees follow the vice versa pattern.