Coriander (Cilantro) Pollinators…

Greetings from Turkana in Northern Kenya. I recently visited one of the farms that I work with up here and was very pleased to find the coriander (cilantro) flowering. This plant is a common and delicious herb that is widely used in the cuisines of many different parts of the world…

Coriander flowers close-up
Coriander flowers close-up

Many of us are aware of the role played by pollinators in producing fruits and other crops like beans, tomatoes, etc. However, even many of the spices that we grow are dependent on pollinators – and without them would not produce the seeds that are the basis of a valuable trade and make the food we eat much tastier and more nutritious!

The flowers of the coriander plant (called cilantro in America) are open and lay in flat heads called umbels. This means that they can be accessed by a wide range of pollinator species. Here are some of the insects that we found visiting and pollinating the cilantro flowers in Turkana.

A lycaenid butterfly and a cuckoo-wasp at the coriander flowers
A lycaenid butterfly and a cuckoo-wasp at the coriander flowers

The lycaenids are tiny butterflies, many of which are common in the drylands of Kenya. They can often be found visiting flowers where they sip nectar and check each other out…

Two lycaenid butterflies enjoying the cilantro flowers
Two lycaenid butterflies enjoying the cilantro flowers

Many different wasps were visiting the flowers. The Cuckoo Wasp was among the most striking with its bright green iridescent sheen…

Beautiful Cuckoo Wasp
Beautiful Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo wasps are named after their behaviour where (like the cuckoo birds) they lay their eggs in other wasps’ nests – they are parasites.

Of course the bees were among the most common and efficient pollinators visitors to the coriander flowers…

Braunsapis bee at the coriander flowers
Braunsapis bee at the coriander flowers

The Braunsapis bees were the most common visitors to the flowers among the bees. They moved about a lot and we found them carrying lots of pollen too.

Happy Braunsapis busy on the flowers
Happy Braunsapis busy on the flowers

A number of tiny Stingless Bees were also active – collecting pollen and nectar…

Stingless Bee at work...
Stingless Bee at work...

All the hard work by the pollinators produces these beautiful seeds that we can flavour our food with!

Yummy coriander seeds thanks to the pollinators
Yummy coriander seeds thanks to the pollinators

More from the world of insects soon!

2 thoughts on “Coriander (Cilantro) Pollinators…

  1. Again stunning photos Dino. Also interesting to read about some of insects so vital in pollinating the plants. Didn’t know about where coriander came from other than a jar :>)

  2. Dino – I have a photo of a beautiful huge moth from Naibosho Conservancy, Mara which I would love to know what it is. Can I send you the photo or who is best to help ID it?

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