Saturday, November 15, 2014

Catching flies

A botanical mystery

In southern India, the idiom "catching flies" refers to idling. It is hard to find a reliable source for that! Many years ago Zafar Futehally wrote about the flycatchers in a newspaper article that was titled "It's hard work catching flies". In the course of some idle browsing, I discovered this interesting bit from the pen of an Indian Medical Service officer, someone who clearly had some spare time for thoughts beyond the call of duty. Science as pastime was so common for them that they even had a journal for it - and we can all thank the National Library of Scotland for making these available online.

Scientific memoirs by medical officers of the Army of India


From the Scientific memoirs by medical officers of the army of India (1887)

I have spent a fair bit of time trying to understand its significance but it seems that someone should re-examine this. I know Wrightia tinctorea but not Wrightia coccinea. In the process of reading this I had to re-examine what I knew of insects and flowers. This resulted in my creating a Wikipedia article to cover the subject of trap flowers,  rewardless and deceitful pollination -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollination_trap - but it still leaves the question open - is this really a case of a trap flower? Or is proto-carnivory?

Further reading

1 comment:

  1. Oh, these colonial doctors and their distractions only surpassed by yours. :)

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