Anthers produce pollen grains, and in American Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), the color of the anther usually corresponds with the color of its pollen.
The pollen grain was a key innovation in the evolution of the land plants. This tiny package transports sperm within a safe envelope, freeing the seed plants from the short mating distances that characterize their cousins (mosses, ferns, and horsetails). Given this critical role, we expect selection to act strongly on pollen characters, and can’t help but be intrigued by plant-to-plant variation in anther and pollen traits.
Trout lily (Erythronium americanum) exhibits particularly striking color variation: from lemon yellow, to brick red, and all shades of orange in between. A first step in understanding why this variation occurs is to figure out where it occurs. As a citizen scientist, you can help answer this fundamental question about one of our most charismatic spring ephemerals.