The Green Café: Sex and the Single Flower

October 5, 2017

Presented by Dr. Adam Saffer and Professor Vivian Irish

Adam and Vivian taught us about the ins and outs of pollination. There were plenty of interesting flowers blooming in the gardens, and we observed examples of several different strategies that flowers use to make themselves attractive to pollinators. Sight, taste, and smell can all make flowers especially appealing. Some flowers like dandelions turn themselves into a literal target for bees using the ultraviolet spectrum, while others like jasmine employ powerful scents to attract moths. Other flowers, such as Lantana camara, contain delicious nectar that the pollinators eat, and even change color and stop producing nectar when they have been pollinated. We also saw pollination in action as butterflies and bees swarmed around flowers right outside of the greenhouses. For more information on the topic, please watch the full-length video of the presentation on our YouTube channel “The Green Café at Yale.”

Summary written by Emma Tung Corcoran

Green Café is a monthly event, with an interactive presentation for plant scientists, gardeners, environmentalists and others. All are welcome, admission is free. Please email for more information:, or follow @greencafe14