The main difference between pollen and nectar is that pollen provides nutrients such as proteins, fat, and other nutrients, whereas nectar provides sugars, oils, vitamins, salt, and additional nutrients.
Generally, pollen and nectar are two elements in flowers that offer a high-energy food source for pollinators. Moreover, flowers ensure the transformation of pollen from male to female flower parts by using bees.
Key Areas Covered
- What is Pollen
- Definition, Structure, Importance
- What is Nectar
- Definition, Structure, Importance
- Similarities Between Pollen and Nectar
- Outline of Common Features
- Difference Between Pollen and Nectar
- Comparison with Key Differences
Flower, Nectar, Pollen
What is Pollen
Pollen is the powdery substance produced by seed plants, consisting of pollen grains. It also produces male gametes: the sperm cells. Sporopollenin is the hard coat around the pollen grain, protecting the gametocyte during germination. Pollen grains germinate by producing pollen tubes, which transfer the sperm to the ovule, the female part of the flower, containing female reproductive cells. Self-pollination and cross-pollination are the two methods of pollination in flowers.
Furthermore, plants attract pollinators to the flower to pick up pollen. For that, they produce high-energy food sources: pollen and nectar together make a high-energy food. Although bees use both, some pollinators use them in different ways. Usually, honey bees produce bee bread by mixing pollen and nectar with their saliva. Their larva feeds on bee bread too. Generally, pollen provides proteins, fat, and other nutrients as a food source.
What is Nectar
Nectar is the sugary liquid produced by plants in glands named nectaries. Moreover, it serves as a high-energy food source for pollinators. Some of the common, nectar-consuming pollinators include mosquitoes, hoverflies, wasps, bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, honeyeaters, and bats.
Furthermore, honey bees produce honey from nectar. In accidental ways, pollen may be exposed to honey too. On the other hand, nectar becomes economically important as it’s a sugar source for honey. Nectar also provides sugar, salts, oils, vitamins, and other nutrients as a food source.
Similarities Between Pollen and Nectar
- Pollen and nectar are two food sources for pollinators.
- Flowers use them to attract pollinators to the flower.
- Moreover, both are high-energy food sources.
Difference Between Pollen and Nectar
Pollen refers to a fine powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower or from a male cone; each grain contains a male gamete that can fertilize the female ovule, to which pollen is transported by the wind, insects, or other animals. On the other hand, nectar refers to a sugary fluid secreted within flowers that encourage pollination by insects and other animals. In addition, nectar is collected by bees to make into honey.
Usually, stamen produces pollen while glands called nectaries produce nectar.
As a Food Source
More importantly, pollen provides nutrients such as proteins, fat, and other nutrients while nectar provides sugars, oils, vitamins, salt, and additional nutrients.
Pollen is used in producing bee bread, on which bee larva feed, while economically important nectar is used to produce honey.
In brief, pollen and nectar are a high-energy food source for pollinators that uses them in different ways in their diet. Usually, pollen provides proteins, fat, and other nutrients while nectar provides sugars, oils, vitamins, salt, and additional nutrients. In addition, pollen carries sperm cells and nectar is economically important for producing honey. However, the main difference between pollen and nectar is their type of food source for pollinators.
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, June 19). Pollen. Wikipedia. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, May 23). Nectar. Wikipedia. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
- “Cactus flower pollen” By fir0002- Own Work (GFDL 1.2) via Commons Wikimedia
- “Nectar” Daiju Azuma – Own Work (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia