‘Thrum-eyed’ flowers

March 22nd 2015

‘Thrum-eyed’ flowers

A bright clump of primroses Primula vulgaris on the sunny side of Glenleraig Brae (NC148315) on 21st March 2015. These are the first we have seen in the wild this spring. Jan and Mark Snowden did report them from Glendarroch on 18th January.

Primroses have evolved two types of flowers, to encourage cross-pollination. ‘Thrum-eyed’ flowers have the five stamens clustered in the throat of the corolla and short concealed single styles. The other, ‘pin-eyed’ have concealed stamens, and long styles, bringing the stigmas to the mouth of the corolla. The clump here are thrum-eyed.

Pollinating insects are scarce so far, although the first bumblebees have been reported. A bumblebee mimic, the bee-fly Bombylius major, may be seen on primroses at this time of year and should be looked for in Assynt. Although convincingly furry, it is smaller than most bumblebees, and has just the one pair of wings (if the insect is stationary long enough for you to count them).

Ian Evans

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