Simple Things* #9

Green living things can’t move to one another like animals do to make more of themselves. So, they use smaller animals to help them. Green living things have cups at the end of their stick-like bodies, and these cups have colors and smells that make small animals want to come to them. A green living thing puts some special stuff that sticks to things at the end of long tiny sticks in the middle of the cups. This special stuff is important to make more of the green living thing.

Now, small animals come and eat some sweet water in the cup and the special stuff sticks to the small animal. When the animal moves to the next cup to drink more, it takes some of the stuff with it. At the next cup there are flat things that touch the special stuff sticking to the small animal. Then, in the second cup a tiny part moves in together with the special stuff. This makes a little round box out of which a new green living thing can grow in the next year.

Can you guess what we are describing?

Solution

The answer is: Pollination!

Plants often have to rely on small animals to move to the next generation. Insects like bees and beetles, but also small rodents, flying mammals or marsupials can help plants to pollinate each other.

You can tell which organism a plant relies on by looking at their flowers: colours and smells attract certain insects, robust flowers rely on clumsy beetles and colourless flowers next to the ground tend to attract small rodents to come in and eat some nectar.

Whenever the animals eat some of the sweet plant nectar, they get covered in pollen which they carry over to the next plant. There, the pollen finds the respective organ in the second flower, where it moves to combine with an egg cell. The fertilized egg cell then forms seeds and seeds make more plants in the future.

*In which we use Randall Munroe’s ‘simple writer‘ to explain plant-and-pipette topics. Can you guess what they are?

Monroe’s ‘simple writer’ limits language use to only the 10 hundred most common words in the English language. So the word ‘chloroplast’ is out. But so is ‘duck’, ‘cuddle’, and ‘explosion’.

We’ve tried to define a plant and pipette related word using only these common words. Can you tell what we’re talking about? The solution is shown at the bottom.

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