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A new, slimy method of self-pollination

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7:36pm, September 11, 2004

When all else fails for pollination, a yellow flower in the ginger family relies on a substance that botanists say they've never seen before: a do-it-yourself oil slick.

Caulokaempferia coenobialis hangs on rock faces in the humid forests of southern China. When Yingqiang Wang of Zhongkai Agrotechnical College in Guangzhou put bags over these flowers to keep wind or insects from delivering pollen, he found that the plants still produced seeds. He and his colleagues didn't see any insects visiting unbagged flowers in the wild, though they don't rule out the possibility.

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