Watch a Flower That Seems to Remember When Pollinators Will Come Calling

Can you remember what you did yesterday? If not, you might want to take a lesson from Nasa poissoniana, a star-shaped flowering plant from the Peruvian Andes with an unusual skill set.

These plants can gymnastically wave around their stamens — the organs they use for fertilization — to maximize the distribution of their pollen. More surprisingly, a study published last month in Plant Signaling and Behavior suggests that individual plants can adjust the timing of these movements based on their previous experiences with pollinators. In other words, they remember the past, and try to repeat it.

The discovery joins others recently painting an ever-broader picture of what plants can sense, learn and do. The study, although small and preliminary, “presents a promising and intriguing new system to study plant memory,” said Peter Crisp, a plant geneticist at the University of Minnesota who was not involved.

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Nasa poissoniana belongs to a subfamily of plants called Loasoideae. They’re known for their polychrome blooms, as well as for the “really painful” stinging hairs on their stems, says Tilo Henning, one of the study’s lead authors.

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