28 Oct 2013

The Little Pansy Man

We're off on holidays tonight, but before I go I just wanted to share with you our cool nature /botany study since by the time we get home the pansies may no longer be flowering, and I really want to introduce you to The Pansy Man. We heard about him in my latest favourite book, Australian Nature Studies, and a most interesting floral structure he is indeed.

Can you see him sitting there? His little legs, hanging freely, are the nectaries. His body in its white tunic is composed of the five pollen boxes, and has a lovely red neckline. You can even see the neck opening if you look hard. His green head has a tiny mouth, and a thick lip, the sticky tip. He is really very cute, and much more detailed than the photos can capture.

Excuse my ragged cuticles.

If you want to meet your own Little Man, the only difficult but is removing the spurred petal that contains his little nectary legs. We cut off the petals first using scissors before gently lifting the tiny petal 'sleeping bag' off. Use a fresh bloom. Older ones with shrivelled petals do not contain a healthy looking man. We also used a 5x hand lens to look at the features in detail.

According to my book, the nectaries are the two long processes of the two front stamens. They're the bit that the fertilising bee is after, because they're after that lovely sweet yummy nectar. They're covered by the snug fitting spur sleeping bag, and the bee is directed to them by the lines on the petals.  Have you noticed they point straight at the spur? We hadn't, until we made this study.

The little man's body is composed of five pollen boxes, and his red collar is where the pollen is held. When the bee visits, his tongue is coated by the pollen as he brushes by.  At the next pansy, it is deposited on the sticky tip (the man's mouth).

This was the coolest nature study.  We'll be using Australian Nature Studies for Botany next year, but we absolutely couldn't wait until next year to meet our Little Pansy Man.

I'd love it if you'd join us in using this book.  You don't even need to be Australian.  Much of it is applicable to anywhere in the world!!  You can read more of my thoughts about it here.


PS Obviously, I didn't get this posted before I left, but pansies are still flowering in Victoria, so perhaps I'm not too late for you to discover a Little Man too.


  1. That is very cute! I am looking for a Nature book for next year AO4 next year!

  2. Jeanne: Do you know the story of the Passion Flower? I will quote it as I first heard it from Rumer Godden's China Court.

    The passion flower stays open for 3 days, because it was 3 days before Christ rose again; its whiteness is for purity, its blue for heaven. See here, & she points to a leaf, is the spear, & here, the 5 anthers are the 5 wounds. The tendrils are the whips & cords; the stamens, hammer~shaped, are the hammers; the 3 styles , the nails. And here, she touches the threads, is the wreath of thorns, & the fringe, so gaudy on the calyx, is the glory of the nimbus.

  3. Australian Nature Studies has plans from years 1-8, Sarah. I really, really like it.

  4. Is there any chance of getting it scanned? Or is it still in copyright?

  5. Isn't God amazing?! Thank you for the introduction to the Little Pansy Man. We will certainly have to meet him ourselves next year.


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