Flowers Pollinated by Animals

Pollination is the process of transfer of pollen grains from one plant to another by which flower bearing plants reproduce. Flowering plants have developed many different methods to carry out this process. Biotic pollination carried out by living organisms accounts for nearly 90 percent of all pollination processes. Zoophily is the process in which animals act as pollinators. It is seen in plants having vibrantly colored or strong smelling flowers which also attract various animals because of the food availability in form of nectar or the population of edible insects found in proximity of such flowers. At times, even modified leaves called bracts attract insects to carry out the pollination who themselves are pollinators.

Traveler’s Palm

Traveler’s palm is found primarily on the Madagascar Island. The ruffed lemur found in abundance is the primary plant pollinator for this tree that stands at 40 feet tall. The flowers are held in tough bracts which the lemur pulls open to drink the nectar using its long snout. The nectar is sticky and the pollen grains stick to the fur around the snout of the lemur. When they repeat the same with the other flowers, the pollens get transferred leading to pollination.


The stapelia flower, found in Southern Africa and some parts of Asia, is a flower that smells like rotting meat. Flowers of this plant are brown and look like the skin of a dead animal. This flower also produces heat to simulate rotting. This attracts lot of flies that lay their eggs in the flower. Omnivorous bats are attracted to these hovering flies. These bats search into the flower’s hollows for the source of the rotting smell, and also hunt for the flies and maggots around them. In the process, pollen grains get stuck onto their furry bodies. Upon visiting the next flower, some of the pollen falls off which leads to pollination.

Mulungu Tree

Mulungu is a leguminous tree that bears bright yellow or greenish flowers. The tree gecko or the skink primarily feeds on the nectar present in the flowers of this tree. The skink climbs into the flower to suck up the sweet smelling liquid. The pollens present on the stigma of the mulungu flower come in contact with the moist skin of the reptile and get stuck onto them. The skink visits the next flower and deposits the pollens there, thus completing the process of pollination.

Volvulopsis Nummularium

Volvulopis is a flower of the morning glory family and benefited by zoophilic pollination. This plant which flowers only for half a day is mostly visited by honey bees. However, an unusual pollinator is the common garden slug or snail which forages for nectar in its small white flowers. The pollens from the pistil get stuck onto the sticky under body of the mollusk and are transferred to other flowers when the snail moves.

Keywords: biotic pollination, plant pollinators animals, zoophily

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Devin Dupre-Neary has a bachelor's degree in nursing from UC Davis. Rather than move towards a master's or work in a hospital, he chose a different route. In 2009, he wrote professionally, part-time, writing articles on a host of subjects from health issues to gardening.