What is pollination and how does it occur?

One of the most important natural processes of plants and flowers is pollination. Thanks to the transport of pollen, an essential factor in the reproduction of plants takes place: its fertilization, the emergence of seeds and fruits. Many actors can intervene in this process, all of them important to carry out pollination.

The actions of wind or water, mammals, birds, and insects intervene in pollination by transferring pollen grains from the stamen (male floral organ) to the stigma (female floral organ). How do they do that? To discover what pollination is and how it occurs, the insects involved in the process, and the types of pollination, at DolBoard we recommend that you continue reading this article.

what is pollination

Pollination is the process of transporting pollen from one flower to another flower. This transfer of pollen occurs from the male floral organs, also known as stamens, of one flower to the female floral organs, that is, the stigmas of another flower.

In the stigmas of the second flower, germination and fertilization take place, which makes possible the production of new seeds and fruits. In this process, pollinators are the agents responsible for successful pollination.

To recognize what pollination is and its importance, you should know that this process is vital for the survival of human beings since a large part of the food they consume would not exist without this natural process. In addition, the absence of pollinators would directly affect agricultural production, reducing it considerably.

How Pollination Occurs

Within the reproduction of plants, pollination is necessary to carry out fertilization. In this process, there are different strategies developed by pollinators and the plants themselves for pollination to occur.

Therefore, there are different ways regarding how pollination occurs:

  • Hydrophilic pollination: it is produced by the action of water.
  • Anemophilous pollination: it is produced by the action of the wind.
  • Zoophilous pollination: it is produced by animals, especially pollinating insects.

Regarding zoophilic pollination, the subgroup known as entomophilous pollination stands out above all, that is, pollination carried out by insects. There are thousands of insects capable of carrying out pollination in thousands of plants around the different ecosystems of the planet.

pollinating insects

Some of the main pollinating insects are the following:

  • Bumblebee (genus Bombus): they are important pollinators. The Bombini Tribe belongs to the group of social bees and in Argentina, up to 8 species originating from the Neotropics are located, while one is introduced.
  • European bee: they are predominant pollinators in most plants. They are fundamental in the pollination of fodder, fruit trees, oilseeds, and vegetables.
  • Bumblebee (Xylocopa frontalis): they are known as carpenter bees because they make their nests out of wood. They are solitary species with generalist habits regarding the source of pollen and nectar. They are sometimes confused with species of the genus Bombus.
  • Lucerne tribe: these bees of the Apidae family are present in the world with 550 species of 38 genera. They are solitary species that make nests on the ground and pollinate varied flora. The males are distinguished by their long antennae.
  • Black Mangangá bumblebee (Bombus atratus): these species of Bombus correspond to transcendental pollinating agents in wild and cultivated plants.

What are the 4 types of pollination?

There are mainly 4 types of plant pollination: natural, artificial, direct, and cross.

natural pollination

It is a type of pollination produced without the intervention of human beings. Anemophilous, entomophilous, hydrophilic, and direct pollination are clear examples of natural pollination. After years and years of evolution, species have found specific needs to transport pollen naturally and thus reproduce.

All these types of pollination have the same common denominator: their natural development, that is, without any human intervention, is the opposite of artificial pollination.

artificial pollination

It is the type of pollination in which the human being replaces nature during the pollination process, controlling reproduction.

To achieve this, the flowers are bagged to prevent the arrival of other agents, the pollen present in the stamen is collected and transported to the stigma. Afterward, the flowers are covered again until fertilization has taken place. Artificial pollination is carried out for two reasons:

  • Due to the scarcity of natural pollinating agents in agricultural crops.
  • To avoid alterations in specific characteristics of a plant.

direct pollination

It occurs when pollen is transported only from the stamen to the stigma of the same flower. These species are known as autogamous. Its great advantage of this type of pollination is that it does not require pollinating agents to reproduce. Peas, peanuts, mangoes, and beans are examples of self-pollinated plants.


Cross-pollination is another type of pollination that occurs when pollen is carried by an external vector from one plant to another. This type of pollination occurs with the intervention of pollinators, be it insects (bees, wasps, and butterflies), birds (bats or hummingbirds), wind, or water.

This pollination is necessary when the male and female floral organs are not present in the same species. It is also important when they appear at different times of growth. Melons, almond trees, and sunflowers are examples of species that require cross-pollination to reproduce.

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