1. Brian English says

    Ahh, spring, only 8 months away. Still the weather’s tropical here right now. Above 20c at night and low 30’s during the day with thunderstorms or humidity. Bring on the future, at 6cm north a year, Melbourne will be fully tropical in the not too distant geological future…

  2. EastexSteve says

    I read an interesting article in one of the more obscure scientific magazines, Parade. “A mysterious condition is causing fish in rivers across the U.S. to exhibit both male and female sex characteristics.” WTF. The article can probably be read at Somewhat off topic, but interesting.

  3. Quotidian Torture says

    Thanks for that image, PZ. I’m never going to be able to get the idea of a floral nasal gang-bang out of my head.

  4. MrFire says

    when all the plants strive to inseminate your nose

    Godless bestiality. I’ll stick with intra-species nose sex, thank you very much.

  5. NewEnglandBob says

    Some of those look like the mushrooms I put on the angel hair pasta with shrimp and broccoli I made the other night.

  6. Eidolon says

    It seems clear that National Geographic must be banned from schools! This is just as bad as the dictionaries!

    I am certain that seeing a pollen grain getting a stiffy will lead to inevitable moral decay and a life of wanton debauchery!

  7. mikecbraun says

    Unfortunately, this reminds me that with the arrival of spring come pollen counts, which I don’t much like performing. It’s interesting the first day, then it’s downhill from there.

  8. mikecbraun says

    That’s probably a ragweed pollen grain on the left (the prickly one), and the yellow ones look like maple. Not sure what the greenish ones are. Maybe some sort of ornamental or grass, although grass pollen is usually quite large.

  9. daveau says

    Ever notice how PZ can take a lovely theme like botanicals and turn it into something creepy and disgusting?

  10. Sara says

    mikecbraum – Thank You. Being entirely unschooled in the scientific – I was ignorant and was considering a comment to ask the dumb question…
    I shall assume the white stuff they are laying on is Llewelly’s snot.

  11. Katrina says

    From the NG site:

    Lodged in the rumpled tissue of a Viburnum tinus stigma, pollen grains from other snowball blossoms (gray) swell with moisture. One (at center) is already growing the tube that delivers sperm to the ovule. Other species’ pollen (yellow and green) has landed amiss; genetic defenses exclude them from the fertilization race.

  12. Brian says

    The plants are one thing, but the there are the trees.


  13. Acronym Jim says

    I am certain that seeing a pollen grain getting a stiffy will lead to inevitable moral decay and a life of wanton debauchery!

    Eidolon, not to be pedantic, but pollen grains don’t get “stiffies.” They get woodies.

  14. mikecbraun says

    No problem–although many types of pollen look similar, so take my guesses with a grain of salt. There are probably hundreds that are spiky like ragweed, and willow and maple pollen look very similar.

  15. Day says

    Usually in spring or summer I loved the fact that it looked like snowing, when the large trees get there thing going. That was until I realized that the trees were literally giving me a facial.

  16. mikecbraun says

    So Day, are you saying that when one eats honey, they are, in effect, being snowballed by a bee?

  17. mikecbraun says

    Nah, my analogy doesn’t work, since honey is made from nectar. Doh! I thought I had won the internets for a second there…

  18. chuckgoecke says

    One of my pet peeves is the antihistamine commercial that shows a person being inundated with flowers like some kind of horror show of pollen overdose. Totally wrong — Fail. The plants that cause hay fever are all wind pollinated, that is they throw up huge quantities of pollen, hoping that a few of the grains randomly hit the right spot on the female flower parts. Ragweed(“Ambrosia” sp. – Carl Linnaeus must a been high when he named that group)), Cedar, many trees, grasses, etc are wind pollinated. Flowers(in the ornamental sense) exist to attract pollinators; the insects or birds and animals(even humans) that carry pollen from flower to flower. This type of pollen is sticky and heavy, not likely to get up into the air. The upshot of this is it creates a huge discrimination in many peoples mind towards flowers, and the hobby of gardening, which could cause the hobby to die out…. oh wait, gardening is the most popular hobby there is; never mind.

  19. shatfat says


    Well, buddy, I don’t know about you (and I must admit ignorance of the mechanism) but so much as put me in a room with some carnations and I’ll have trouble breathing and a wicked headache. And I’m not the only one.

  20. Lynn Wilhelm says

    Love these pics. They are gorgeous.
    I find it quite interesting (but not surprising) that many of the pollen grains look a lot like the plants themselves. For example, the Venus Fly Trap and the Crinum. I’m sure I could find more if I had time to look more closely.
    As a horticulturalist, I have to agree with chuck @31.

    Shatfat @33, you might need to do some controlled studies to see if carnation pollen really bothers you.
    First of all, most florist carnations have extra flower petals developed from the stamens of the original species. I’m not sure how much pollen they can even produce, but the chances of much getting out through those stacked petals is really slim.
    In many cultivated flowers, even bees can’t get at the nectaries and the pollen for all the extra petals.

  21. chuckgoecke says

    Its highly unlikely that carnation pollen is causing your problems, for the reasons Lynn mentioned above, plus others. Being a fragrant flower, a carnation is releasing a bunch(a highly precise scientific measurement term) of volatile chemicals into the air. Chemicals that you are not routinely exposed to, unless you work in a florist shop or carnation nursery. It is probably one of these chemicals that you are sensitive to. Or it’s psychosomatic.

  22. Carlie says

    Ever notice how PZ can take a lovely theme like botanicals and turn it into something creepy and disgusting?

    No, where did he do that?

    skeptical scientist – Some other Viburnum species have pollen in the 25-35 micrometer range, so something like that.