Why anthers matter


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.

3 thoughts on “Why anthers matter

  1. Emily,
    I have photos of E.americanum with red, orange and yellow anthers if you would be interested in seeing the photographs. You can check them out at the KentuckyFlora Facebook page (see below)


    • Hi Alan, Thanks for the link to the photos! Are they all from the John B. Stephenson State Nature Preserve? Let me know, and I’ll add it to the database. Thanks again! Emily


      • Hi Emily, The red and orange anthers are from the John B Stephenson SNP, the yellow is from a roadside area in the same County (Rockcastle). Regards Alan Sent from my iPhone



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