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For the Love of Rhododendron

Season 2: Episode 4 - From distraction to discovery

In this episode we meet Dr. Mary Jane Epps, a scientist at the Center for Urban Habitats in Charlottesville, VA. We learn how a moment of distraction while researching beetles led her to discover that Rhododendron calendulaceum is pollinated by the wings of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies. This uncommon type of pollination works because the flower shape offers a clear landing platform for butterflies. The high diversity in flower shapes results in diverse rhododendron pollinator communities. It is essential for humans to support these pollinator communities in simple ways so we can contribute to the conservation of pollinator biodiversity.

As observed by philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, "The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough."

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Explore the links below to learn more about topics mentioned in this episode:

Swallowtail on R. calendulaceum< Publication about butterfly wing
pollination of flame azalea

Swallowtail Butterfly All about Tiger Swallowtails

Rhododendron pollen Learn about Rhododendron pollen

Dr Mary Jane Epps Dr. Mary Jane Epps bio

Project BudBurst Monitor pollinators with
Project BudBurst

Xerces Society pollinators Xerces Society - pollinators
and their conservation

 

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