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The shuttlecock sugarbush bears its distinctively shaped flower heads from January until June (2). The tiny flowers, or florets, in the centre of the flower head may produce male and female reproductive organs (stamens and pistil) and nectar, while those around the outside are sterile and so act solely as advertisements (7). This spectacular bouquet attracts birds, such as orange-breasted sunbirds (Anthobaphes violacea), which come to feed on the nectar, but simultaneously benefit the plant by carrying out pollination, as pollen rubs on and off the bird's forehead or bill (7) (8). The seeds of the shuttlecock sugarbush are dispersed by the wind (4). Fires that occur within their habitat kill the plant, but the seeds are able to withstand such temperatures, and survive to start a new generation (4). Many Protea species have developed a way of avoiding the summer drought by delaying seed germination until autumn, but not the shuttlecock sugarbush; the seeds may begin germinating in early summer and this species has no summer-avoiding dormancy period (9).


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Source: ARKive

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