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  RESEARCH

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Plant Sexuality And Political Correctness 

 Is Polygamy Legal Within The Kingdom Of Plants?
 How Do Plants Practice Safe Sex With Other Plants?
 Can A Plant Be Homosexual? How About Unisexual?
 Why Is The Term "Deflowered" Politically Incorrect?
 Do Naturalized Plants That Germinate In The U.S.
    Automatically Become United States Citizens?

 

Protect Your Anthers

Flowering plants have evolved one of the most complex and "sexiest" life cycles on earth. In fact, they have "double fertilization" involving two sperm rather than the usual one. In a mature seed, the embryo originates from a zygote formed by the fusion of sperm #1 with an egg inside the embryo sac. Sperm #2 fuses with the two polar nuclei forming the nutrient-rich endosperm tissue. When you consume coconut meat, coconut milk or popcorn you are eating endosperm. In the case of popcorn, the endosperm has exploded due to the pressure build-up inside the grain. Botanists have devised all sorts of terms to explain plant sexuality including unisexual, bisexual, asexual, self-fertile, self-sterile and polygamous. At least 90% of all flowering plants have bisexual flowers containing male and female organs. Many of these species avoid inbreeding and incest by having their sex organs mature at different times. In protogyny the female organ is receptive before the male is mature, and in protandry the male is ready before the female is receptive. This cleaver strategy favors cross pollination between different individuals. Some plants have only unisexual flowers and are dioecious with separate male and female individuals in the population--like date palms, edible figs, willows, cottonwoods, marijuana and people. The term homosexual is probably not politically correct for plants, although many plants are unisexual with flowers of only one sex. Poison oak is essentially dioecious, but it may also be polygamous with bisexual and unisexual flowers on the same individual. Figs are especially interesting because they have tiny unisexual male and female flowers inside a fleshy structure called a syconium. A minute female wasp squeezes into the syconium to pollinate the flowers and lay her eggs. After a few months, the new generation of wasps have an orgy inside the syconium and fertile females exit and start the entire cycle over again.

Up until the late 19th century, sexuality in plants was vigorously denounced by staunch theologians who believed in the literal translation of the Bible. According to Genesis 1, plants were created on the 3rd day. Not until the 6th day were animals and people created, and the words "male and female." Without male and female there could be no sex, therefore plants did not have sex. Flowers were erroneously considered sexless things of beauty. This preposterous assumption is undoubtedly the origin of the unfortunate term "deflowered" for a woman who has lost her virginity. Chauvinistic botanical ignorance has been perpetuated for centuries, including ridiculous ideas that the male contributes the seed. Not only does the female contribute the seed and egg, but also the vital extrachromosomal genes in cytoplasmic organelles called mitochondria and proplastids. The latter organelles become chloroplasts--the photosynthetic life blood of plants. Have you thanked your mother lately for your mitochondria?

A full-blown case of anther smut (Ustilago violacea) on the wildflower Silene verecunda ssp. platyota on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, California, USA. The fungal disease on this native wildflower is definitely in the advanced stages.

At this time of sexual hysteria it is reassuring to know that plants also have sexually transmitted diseases. One of the most serious is anther smut (Ustilago violacea), the dreaded venereal disease of the plant world. Anther smut belongs to the Class Basidiomycetes in the fungal Division Eumycota. This debilitating fungal disease causes the male organs (anthers) to blacken and shrivel, resulting in sterility and a very unsightly floral appearance. Anther smut is spread by unsanitary, promiscuous insect pollinators who carry the infectious spores from one plant to another. The spores infect healthy individuals during the spring flowering season, erupting in their sex organs a year later when the plants once again enter their mating cycle. Floral castration is a rather drastic measure and infected individuals are seldom taken to a smut clinic, so diseased plants just keep on reinfecting the population. Safe sex is effective, but slipping miniature condoms over the anthers is tedious and much too impractical. Wise plants avoid the risk of sexually transmitted diseases by developing an asexual life style. They simply clone themselves vegetatively. Some can even produce apomictic seeds without sex. The embryo develops parthenogenetically from an unfertilized egg or from other cells in or surrounding the embryo sac.

 

source: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0404.htm

 

 

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