The world of plants amazes scientists and commoners. Of course, everyone knows the plants that don’t get their energy from the sun but eat insects and other small creatures. However, biologists are interested in another unique plant. I am talking about Pothos, a type of flowering plant.
Pothos feels at home on a windowsill as well as in the wild. However, there is one peculiarity about this plant: it has the structure and morphology of a flowering plant, but it does not flower.
Only one case of pothos flowering has been recorded in the entire history of observation and study, about sixty years ago. (Source) So what’s going on here?
Pothos Are Flowering Plants!
The fact that Pothos are angiosperms means that they, at the very least, should occasionally show their flowers to bewildered humans. You can search far and wide, but you won’t find the lucky few who were able to witness this natural miracle firsthand.
Despite their origin in the Southern Hemisphere islands, Pothos has spread to nearly every country on Earth due to their ease of cultivation.
Pothos can hang from trees, crawl up them, and spread out on the ground. Pothos can grow anywhere because their aerial roots absorb water from the air. The plant’s rapid adaptability ensures its successful evolution.
Plant experts agree that Pothos must reach a particular stage of maturity before producing flowers. And everything you see now in nature or at home is young growth that is incapable of flowering.
Additionally, upright stems of pothos climbing on trees will produce flowers. Such a fully mature Pothos will reach a height of at least 65 feet, with enormous leaves. The Pothos will receive adequate sunlight and bloom if these conditions are met.
Why Pothos Do Not Bloom?
These plants prefer to propagate vegetatively, using cuttings or leaves. As a result, achieving flowering is an almost impossible task for them. By researching, scientists have found that Pothos has a sharp deficiency in the genes responsible for producing gibberellins.
These are growth hormones that regulate many processes, including flowering. As a result, Pothos does not receive a signal about the need to form what nature seems to require of them.
Scientists could still coax flowers from a Pothos in the lab by artificially inducing the plant’s growth hormone production.
And here’s the mystery: how did the Pothos evolve to this point? After all, by flowering, the plant can change its genes and make its species more resistant to changing environmental conditions, better able to adapt to new places to live and fight off disease.
This demonstrates that it is possible to avoid the strange celibacy that the Pothos have imposed on themselves for whatever reason.
Meanwhile, researchers are still trying to figure out how factors like plant age, light intensity, and seasonality affect the activity of the phytohormones brought up.
The results of these studies will allow us to understand why Pothos have lost their ability to flower at the genetic level.
Why is Flowering Essential for Plants?
Such an evolutionary change seems strange since flowering allows the plant to diversify its genes. This increases the population’s resistance to environmental changes, helps to master new habitats, and resist diseases.
However, it has long been observed that plants that can reproduce both by flowering and vegetatively more often choose the latter, primarily when they exist in very dense populations.
The explanation here is obvious. If a species feels perfectly well in one environment or another, it sees no need to change. Nobody will tune up a perfectly working mechanism additionally. So Why put forth the effort to make flowers?