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Hot Plants Are Cool
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Hot Plants Are Cool

The sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) can maintain temperatures of around 30°C even when ambient temperatures drop to freezing (0°C) that's more than human can do.

Warm-blooded, Smarm-blooded, Make Way For Hot Plants!

Do you know someone who thinks they know everything about plants? Well, maybe they do and maybe they don't, but there is a great way to test them...ask them about hot plants. Ask them about organisms that maintain temperatures above ambient temperature, and see if they get a quizzical look and start talking about warm blooded animals. If they do, they don't know everything about plants because those marvelous photosynthetic organisms we share this planet with have quite a few tricks up their sleeves (which of course they don't have, sleeves that is, but you get the idea), and one of those tricks is thermoregulation!

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What are some of the techniques that flowering plants (angiosperms) use to attract pollinators?
  2. How does the temperature of male florets compare to the temperature of female florets? Is this pattern consistent with thermogenesis being involved in the pollination process? Why or why not?
  3. How does Colocasia esculenta prevent self-pollination? Does it surprise you that a plant can be so sophisticated in its behavior? Why or why not?
  4. If plants are able to thermoregulate, why don't they maintain constant elevated temperatures like warm-blooded animals? Think carefully about the costs and benefits of these behaviors.

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