Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

January 18, 2017: Botany Photo of the Day is being actively worked on. Returning soon!

Centropogon nigricans

Centropogon nigricans
Anoura fistulata

A huge thank you to Dr. Nathan Muchhala for sharing his photographs of a mammalian pollinator in action to round out the pollinator series.

The flower of the plant species, Centropogon nigricans, is exclusively pollinated by the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata. In other words, this is an example of obligate pollination. It's also thought to be a prime example of co-evolution (PDF). Dr. Muchhala described Anoura fistulata in a 2005 paper, so this bat species was unknown to science as recently as three or four years ago. Native to the outer slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, Anoura fistulata has the longest tongue relative to its body length of any mammal -- so long, in fact, that it is necessary for it to retract its tongue into its rib cage.

The story of the discovery was widely covered in the press in late 2006, so here are a few places to spend some time reading: Floral Long-Necks and Bat Sippers via the Human Flower Project, the transcript of a Nature podcast with Dr. Muchhala about Anoura fistulata, and A New World Record from Bat Conservation International.

Dr. Muchhala has a series of photographs of bat-pollinated flowers (and related bats) here: Bat Pollination in Cloud Forests.

As for the plant, Centropogon nigricans, there's not much to be found about it online, other than what is written about it in relation to this story, including: "Specialization on one species of pollinator is exceedingly rare in angiosperms, and Centropogon nigricans is the only example known in flowers pollinated by bats." The genus Centropogon has a distribution range that extends from Mexico south into much of South America (including Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina). Of the 230 described species, 65 are found in Ecuador.


...that my one heck of a tongue...!


Wonderful and amazing. Thanks so much for this pollinator series - hope you'll consider a sequel sometime.

AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing....We don't often hear of the wonderful capabilities of bats OR get to see it!

Wow, Gene Simmons look out.....


Quite impressive, but also quite necessary for that job.

wonders never cease now do they

What a spectacular finale to the pollinator series; you have outdone yourself, Daniel! Many thanks, again, for both the picture and the education.

two different genre promising their existence to each other...a love that crosses lines...till the end of time

Wow. You saved the best for last. This is simply amazing.

-- removed irrelevant comment -- Daniel

Mary Ann - the place to ask questions like that is the garden forums. See link right above the Post a comment box.

Amazing ,Its very rare and a botanist i am pleased 2 c this.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604.822.3928
Fax: 604.822.2016 Email:

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia