Pollination is the act of plant fertilization that occurs when pollen is moved from flower to
flower. Pollination can be done by the wind, insects, birds or even by people. Pollination is
important to our environment because beautiful flowers rely on it, but also because so much of our food comes from plants that require pollination to produce fruit. Bees and butterflies are famous pollinators, but all sorts of creatures also help out.
With a pollination song (sung to the tune of "This Land is Your Land") and a printable handout for classroom use, this plant biology site from Missouri Botanical Gardens is a great resource for middle-school students and their teachers. "When animals such as bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and hummingbirds pollinate plants, it's accidental. They are not trying to pollinate the plant. Usually they are at the plant to get food, the sticky pollen or a sweet nectar made at the base of the petals."
The Pollinator Partnership is a non-profit dedicated to protecting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and geckos. Visit their site to download a regional planting guide, which lists plants needed in your specific area to support pollinator populations. "By adding plants to your landscape that provide food and shelter for pollinators throughout their active seasons and by adopting pollinator friendly landscape practices, you can make a difference to both the pollinators and the people that rely on them."
Help Dectective La Plant discover how one plant can create many plants. Start with the Case Brief, and then read the Facts of the Case (flower biology, pollination, and nonflowering plants.) Now you have enough background information to solve the two mysteries: "What Are the Parts of the Plants?" and "Do Plants Use Seeds to Reproduce?" and complete the three online
activities. Great for upper elementary and middle-school students. The site is also available in Spanish.
For high-school and college students, this article from the Missouri Department of Horticulture, defines pollination terms such as intersterile and self-fruitful, and explains how various fruit trees are planted in patterns to maximize cross-pollination. "Honeybees are the most important natural carriers of pollen. As the bee flies from flowers on one tree to those on another in the orchard, pollen sticks to its body hairs. The bee rubs off the pollen onto the stigma and transfers additional pollen from the anthers as it visits the flowers."
"Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bits of food you eat!" This is my pollination pick-of-the-week site because of the depth of information presented and the friendly layout. Topics covered (for middle and high school students) include What is Pollination, Animal Pollination, Environmental Benefits, and Cultural Importance. "Native peoples were the
first to recognize the role of pollination and to plant corn in such a way that they could hybridize certain types of corn for particular characteristics and purposes. Native Americans are known as the "first hybridizers" for their scientific talents in cross-pollination and hybridization."