Well-known science writer Marta Zaraska says air pollution is not only making it harder for plants to survive, it's also making it difficult for pollinating insects to tell the difference between plants by the unique fragrances they emit.
Zaraska says plants communicate among themselves through fragrances they release into the air. Reduce the fragrances, and you get mixed-up messages the plants themselves don't understand. Insects can't follow scent trails and pollinate flowers to make them bloom.
Jose Fuentes, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University says air pollutants interact with and break down the plant's scent molecules, which insect pollinators like bees use to find food. These pollution-tainted scents can confuse bees and make it harder for them to pollinate flowers. This is because the chemical interactions reduce the life span of scent molecules and the distance at which they travel through space.
Fuentes explains that many insects build their nests up to 3,000 feet away from their food source. Air pollution from big cities reduce the distance flower scents travel from 4,000 feet in the 1800's to only 700 feet these days. Thus, pollinators like bees have a hard time finding flowers to sustain themselves and flowers can't pollinate to blossom as fully as possible.
The danger here lies in having a shortage of pollinators like bees and other insects that increase production of crops.
This global problem needs worldwide solutions. Flower and plant lovers can do their share in fighting pollution by growing the following natural air purifiers in their own backyard.
We can't beat air pollution by ourselves. But we can take small steps to help clean the environment and make it easier for flowers to bloom and bees to pollinate them.
After all, who wouldn't want to wake up to the smell of fragrant flowers, and get a bouquet of roses on a bright spring morning?