Written by Daniel: Eric in San Francisco (Eric in SF@Flickr) shared today’s image via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool | original image). Eric is very fortunate in being able to frequently visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum where he takes these great photos. Thanks yet again, Eric.
Written by Douglas Justice: Lobelias nearly always provoke interesting conversations amongst botanists and horticulturists. Many of the larger lobelia flowers (such as in Lobelia excelsa) are red, tubular, and bird-pollinated. In all lobelias, the flowers are upside down (i.e., twisted through 180 degrees as they develop), although this is hardly apparent to the casual observer. Lobelias are protandrous (compare protogynous), which helps prevent self pollination. The anthers form a tube through which the piston-like style picks up pollen. The protruding style is not receptive at the time the pollen is ripe and thusly presented to pollinators at the tip of the closed styles (as seen in Eric’s excellent photo). Eventually (presumably after the self pollen is removed or no longer viable), the style branches split open and expose their pollen-receptive surfaces.