- Her Miner’s Hand
Part II: The Pollinators
- Western Swallowtail
Every blooming plant is pollinated by some force. Most are touched into procreation by a living being – bee, fly, beetle, small bird, mammal or reptile, even a gardener’s brush. Sometimes a wind! These species are connected by a natural force that is powerful and long-lived and it changes only if the needs of the species dictate change. These creatures, through evolution, shape themselves to fit into their habitat. If climate changes too fast for them or some catastrophe tickles their processes, they must find another partner or they will die. But when change comes slowly, they adapt, find new partners, shift their habits, and live on.
Self-pollination occurs in some species, but successful evolution usually requires a mixing of genetic materials for the strength to withstand disease, parasites, change. Pollination by outside agents means that these Earthly floral wonders are sensed, caressed, explored by an ardent lover. The movable agents take food – pollen and nectar – and carry pollen from one plant to another, bringing about a healthy diversity.
Here are some of Earth’s swains, mostly insects, which are the pollinators we know best. A few form “monogamous” relationships with a species of plant, and the two are bound together in a marriage of more than convenience. Some pollinators are general in their attentions, and travel from one type of blooming plant to another. Without these strange relationships, in which the partners probably do not exchange genetic material, but pass it on, Earth herself would lose her youthful green, her fertile plains – there’d be no gardens of a variegated, self-creating, self-sustaining kind.
There might be something to generate life through genetic exchange. We now suspect that this occurs in microbial life in the ice world at the poles and in the boiling waters far under the surface of the sea. All these creatures, so tiny, might reproduce by splitting themselves, but we believe that is not universal even in those extreme circumstances. But we humans, as we begin to observe such places, probably still do not recognize the mechanisms. We assume they are there because we are familiar with the patterns on Earth that seem to determine success.
We have never known Earth without her million million Edens, all fueled by the pollinators and their partners.