Massonia depressa is one of nearly fifty species of the Massonia genus in South Africa, a member of the Hyacinthaceae family. They commonly occur along the west and south coasts, as well as the Karoo and Eastern Cape. This one was photographed in the West Coast National Park in winter.
The flowers being at ground level, capitalise on an unusual opportunity: they find pollinators among small animals like rodents, including gerbil, who visit them at night. These plants have been found to produce little seed when these rodents can’t reach the flowers and the task is left to insects.
There are also proteas with flowers benefiting from rodent pollination similar to Massonia. The nectar of M. depressa is unusually sticky, which makes it less attractive to insects, but good for the rodents. The plants have been found to secrete more nectar at night for the benefit of their benefactors, making the arrangement more mutually effective (www.amjbot.org).