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Rat's Tail

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Rat's Tail


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Genus: Babiana
Species: B. ringens
Binomial name
Babiana ringens

The Rat's tail (Babiana ringens) is a flowering plant native to South Africa. The foliage is long and erect with a sterile main stalk. The plant bears bright red, tubular flowers on side branches close to the ground. It grows in sandy soil.

The main stalk acts as a perch for birds, enabling birds to land within reach of the plant's flowers. The bird that seems to be a pollinator of the plant is the malachite sunbird (Nectarina famosa). The male sunbird is twice as likely to perch on the stalk as the female and, on average, spends four times longer on a perch. The stalk does seem to play a role in pollination as plants without a stalk produced only half as many seeds as plants with a stalk intact (Anderson, Cole, and Barrett, 2005).

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