Letter | Published:

Honey from Ailanthus

Nature volume 155, page 81 (20 January 1945) | Download Citation



THE attraction of hive-bees to the flowers of the Tree of Heaven, recorded by Dr. R. Melville in Nature recently1, has also been noted by me in Oxford. On July 14, 1944, I was awakened at dawn by a continuous high-pitched whining hum, like that of a dynamo, in the tall trees outside this Museum, and found it to be caused by thousands of Apis mellifica which were visiting the male flowers. The latter are obscure and small-petalled, in large panicles, and give off a strong musky scent. Dr. Nicholas Polunin, who kindly identified the flowers as Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, remarked that this kind of disagreeable smell is more commonly associated with fly-pollinated flowers such as certain Umbelliferæ. But I searched several branches at different times of day, and found practically no winged insects on the flowers except hive-bees, apart from a few small ladybird beetles.

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  1. 1.

    Nature, 154, 640 (1944).

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  1. Bureau of Animal Population, University Museum, Oxford.



  1. Search for CHARLES ELTON in:

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