And a Plant is Born
Plants, which have a most important role in the world's ecological balance and, indeed, in the continuation of life, possess a relatively more effective reproductive system than other living creatures. Thanks to this, they multiply without any difficulty. Sometimes it will be enough for a plant stalk to be cut and placed in the ground for the plant to multiply, at others for an insect to land on a flower.
The internally quite complex reproduction system of plants, although seemingly a very simple process, leaves scientists astounded.
A New Life Begins with the Leaving of the Parent Plant
Some plants do not have separate genders, but continue the reproduction of the species as one gender by special means. The new generation which emerges as a result of reproduction in this manner is an exact copy of the generation which brought it into being. The best known asexual reproduction method of plants is the modifying of stems and separating into different parts.
This way of reproducing (modified stems or division), realised with the assistance of some special enzymes, is typical of a large number of plants. For example, grasses and strawberries multiply by using horizontal stems known as "stolons." The potato, a plant which grows underground, multiplies by forming rhizomes (horizontal stems), which enlarge at the ends into tubes.
For some species of plants it is enough if a part of their leaves falls to the ground for another plant to grow. For example, the Bryophyllum daigremontianum produces young plantlets spontaneously on the margins of its leaves. Eventually these drop to the ground and begin an independent life.1
Bearing these examples in mind, what is fundamentally necessary for a plant to reproduce by putting out a part of itself? Let us think! It is easy to answer this question when the genetic make-up of plants is examined.
Like other living creatures, plants' structural characteristics are encoded in the DNA in their cells. In other words, how a plant will reproduce, how it will breathe, how it will come by its nutrients, its colour, smell, taste, the amount of sugar in it, and other such information, is without exception to be found in all of that plant's cells. The cells in the roots of the plant possess the knowledge of how the leaves will carry out photosynthesis, and the cells in the leaves possess the knowledge of how the roots will take water from the soil. In short, there exist a code and a blueprint for the formation of a complete new plant in every extension that leaves a plant. All the features of the mother plant, based on its in-built genetic information, are to be found, complete, down to the last detail in every cell of every little part that splits off from it.
So, in that case, how and by whom was the information that can form a complete new plant installed in every part of the plant?
The probability of all the information being totally complete and the same inside every cell of a plant cannot be attributed to chance. Nor can it be attributed to the plant itself, or the minerals in the soil that carry out this process. These are all parts of the system which make up the plant. Just as it takes a factory engineer to program production line robots, since the robots cannot come by the instructions themselves, so there must be some being which gives to plants the necessary formula for growth and reproduction, since the plants, like the robots, cannot acquire these by themselves.
It is, of course God who implanted the necessary information in the plants' cells, as in all other living things in the world. It is He who without any doubt created everything in complete form, and who is aware of all creation. God draws attention to this truth in several holy verses:
Sexually Reproducing Plants
Reproduction carried out by means of the male and female reproductive organs in the flowers of plants is called sexual reproduction. Flowers show differences in features, such as shape, colour, the casing of reproductive cells, and petals. But despite this variety in structure, all flowers serve the same basic functions. These are to produce reproductive cells, prepare them for dispersal, and to fertilise other reproductive cells which reach them.
Pollens, which emerge at the time flowers start to open, are plants' male reproductive cells. Their functions are to reach the female organs in flowers of the same species and to ensure the continuation of their species of plant.
Every plant has its own method, or mechanism, which it uses to send its pollen out. Some plants make use of insects, others of the force of the wind. The most important point in the fertilisation of plants is without doubt the fact that each plant can only fertilise another plant of the same species. For this reason it is most important that the right pollen should go to the right plant.
So, how is it that there is no confusion during fertilisation, especially in the months of spring when there are so many varieties of pollen in the air? How does pollen stand up to its long journeys and changing conditions?
The answer to all these questions will be given when we examine the structure of pollen and the dispersal systems.
Pollens: Perfectly Packaged Genes
Pollen, a fine powdery substance, is first produced in flowers' male reproductive organs, and then moves to the outer part of the flower. Having reached there it begins to mature and becomes ready to fertilise the next generation. This is the first stage in the life of pollen.
Let us first cast a glance at the structure of pollen. Pollen is made up of micro-organisms invisible to the naked eye (each beech tree pollen grain is 2 microns in size, and each pumpkin pollen grain is 200 microns in size) (1 micron = 1/1,000 mm). A pollen grain consists of two sperm cells (generative cells) contained within a larger cell(tube cell).
Each grain of pollen may be likened to a sort of box. Inside are the plant's reproductive cells. It is essential for these cells to be well concealed to protect their life and keep them safe from external dangers. For this reason the structure of the box is very strong. The box is surrounded by a wall called the "sporoderm." The outermost layer of this wall, called exine, is the most resistant material known in the organic world, and its chemical make-up has not yet been fully analysed. This material is generally very resistant to damage from acids or enzymes. It is furthermore unaffected by high temperature and pressure. As we have seen, very detailed precautions have been taken to protect the pollen, which is essential for the continued existence of plants. The grains have been very specially wrapped up. Thanks to this, whatever method the pollen is dispersed by, it can remain alive even miles away from the parent plant. Besides the fact that pollen grains are coated with a very resistant material, they are also dispersed in very large numbers, which guarantees the multiplication of that plant.
As we have seen from the detailed structure of pollen, God reveals to us His incomparable art in all the things He creates and wishes us to think about them. Attention is drawn to this is many verses in the Qur'an. The following verse is particularly illuminating:
On the earth there are diverse regions side by side and gardens of grapes and cultivated fields, and palm-trees sharing one root and others with individual roots, all watered with the same water. And We make some things better to eat than others. There are Signs in that for people who use their reason. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 4)
Generally speaking, there are two different ways that pollen reaches the flowers to fertilise it. In the process of dispersal, the first stage in the fertilisation process, the pollen may stick to the body of a bee, butterfly, or other insect, and have itself carried that way, or may be borne along by air currents.
Pollens Which Open Their Sails to the Wind
oak, willow, poplar, pines, grasses, wheat, etc. are wind pollinated. The wind takes the minute particles from the plants, carries them to other plants of the same species, and thus ensures fertilisation.
There are still many points which scientists are at a loss to explain, and many questions still awaiting answers regarding wind pollination. For example, how does each of the thousands of varieties of pollen borne by the wind recognise plants of its own species? How is it that the pollen given off by the plant manage to reach the plant's female organs without getting stuck anywhere? Although the probabilities of fertilisation are quite low, how is it that thousands of plants are fertilised in this way, and furthermore have been for millions of years?
To provide the answers to these questions, Cornell University's Karl J. Niklas and his team set out to study plants which pollinate by the wind. The results they produced were exceedingly surprising. Niklas and his team discovered that wind pollinated plants have aerodynamic flower structures to enable them to attract large quantities of pollen from the air.
And what is this aerodynamic structure in plants? What effect does it have? To provide the answers to these questions, we shall first have to explain what is meant by "aerodynamic structure." Forces originating in air currents operate on bodies moving in the air. Thanks to these forces, known as aerodynamic forces, bodies which manage to move in the air are known as "aerodynamically structured bodies." Some plants which employ wind pollination use this aerodynamic structure in a most effective manner. The best example of this is to be seen in pine cones.
Perhaps the most important question which led Karl Niklas and his team to make a study of wind pollination was "How is it that with this great number of pollens in the air the pollen from one plant is not caught by another species of plant and reaches other plants only of its own species?" This was the question which led scientists to study plants which fertilise by the wind, in particular pine cones.
In trees with cones, known for their long lives and height, the cones form male and female structures. Male and female cones can be on different trees as well as on the same tree. There are specially designed channels on the cones to draw to themselves the currents which carry the pollen. The pollen can easily reach the reproductive areas, thanks to these channels.
Female cones are larger than male cones and grow singly. The female cones consist of a central axis having arranged around it numerous sporophylls - leaf-like structures. These are structures in the form of casings resembling fish scales. It is at the base of these scales that two ovules (parts where eggs are formed) develop. When the cones are ready to pollinate, these cases open up into two sides. In this way they enable pollen from male cones to enter.
In addition, there are special assisting structures which enable pollen to enter the cone with ease. For example, the scales of the female cone are covered with sticky hairs. Thanks to these hairs, the pollen can easily be taken inside for fertilisation. After fertilisation, the female cones turn into wooden structures containing a seed. Later on, the seeds bring forth new plants under suitable conditions. Female cones also possess another striking property. The area where the egg forms (ovule) is very close to the centre of the cone. It would apparently be difficult for the pollen to reach this area. Because, in order to reach the inner part of the cone, it has to enter a special path which leads to the centre. Although at first sight this looks as if it might be a disadvantage to the fertilisation of cones, studies revealed that this was not the case.
To find out how this particular fertilisation system in the cones works, an experiment was carried out by preparing a model cone. The motion of small balloons filled with helium and left in currents of air was observed. It was found that these small balloons easily followed the air currents and possessed the property of being able to easily enter the narrow corridors in the cone.
Subsequently, the movements of the balloons in this experimental model were filmed using a special photographic technique. These images were then analysed with the help of a computer and the direction and speed of the wind were established.
According to the results from the computer, it was discovered that cones altered the movement of the wind in three ways. First, the direction of the wind is turned towards the centre by means of the leaves. Then later, the wind in this region is twisted and pulled into the area where the eggs are formed. In the second movement, the wind, which spins like a whirlpool and touches all the little casings, is then directed towards the region which opens to the centre of the cone. Thirdly, thanks to its protuberances which give rise to small currents, the cone turns the wind downwards and directs it towards the casings.
Thanks to these movements most of the pollen in the air reaches the desired destination. And here there is no doubt that the point most worthy of note is that these three operations, which complement each other, must necessarily be coterminous. The perfect planning of the cones emerges at this point.
The theory of evolution claims that, as with all living things, there was a phased development over time in plants, too. According to evolutionists, the reason for the flawless structure of plants is coincidence. To appreciate the invalidity of this claim it will suffice to examine the faultless structure of the cones' reproductive system.
It is not possible for any living species to perpetuate itself without a reproductive system. This inevitable truth also applies to pine trees and their cones, of course. In other words, the reproductive system in the cones must have existed together with pine trees when they first emerged. It is not possible for the cones' perfect structure to have come into existence of its own accord over a period of time in different stages. Because it is necessary for the structure which leads the wind to the cones, for another structure which later directs the wind into the channels, and for the channels which lead to the area where the eggs are, to have come into existence at the same time with no detail missing. If one of these structures were missing, it would not be possible for this reproductive system to work. It only remains to say that the impossibility of the egg cell in the cone and the sperm cells which will fertilise it having come into existence by themselves by chance is another cul-de-sac from the point of view of the theory of evolution.
For all the parts of such a system to have emerged at the same time by coincidence, when it is impossible for even one part to have done so, is quite inconceivable. Scientific findings invalidate the theory of evolution's claims of emergence by chance from every point of view. For this reason, it is quite evident that if from the moment cones first appeared, they were in perfect form and possessed a flawless system, it was because they had been created by God.
Pine trees have other features which speed up the trapping of pollens. For example, female cones are generally formed at the tips of branches. This reduces the loss of pollen to a minimum.
Moreover, the leaves around the cones help more pollen to fall on the cones by reducing the speed of the air currents. The symmetrical arrangement of the leaves around the cones assists in the trapping of pollens coming from all directions.
Like all pollens, pine pollens have different shapes, sizes, and densities according to their species. For example, the pollen of one species are of a density that prevents them from following the air currents set up by cones of another species. For this reason they leave the current set up by the cone and fall to the ground. All varieties of cone set up air currents most suited to their own species of pollen. This feature of cones does not just serve to trap pollens. Plants use this filtration of the air currents for very different functions. For example, by this method female cones are able to change the direction of fungus pollens which could damage their egg cells.
The precautions taken by plants so that their pollen, thrown into the air at random, can reach their own species, are not limited to these. A plant's producing a great deal more pollen than is required to some extent guarantees the pollination process. Thanks to this the plant is not affected by pollen losses which could come about for various reasons. For example, every male cone on a pine tree produces more than 5 million grains of pollen a year, and one pine tree on its own produces in the region of 12.5 billion grains of pollen a year, which is an extraordinary number when compared to other living things.3
Even so, pollens borne by the wind still face a number of obstacles. One of these is leaves. Therefore when pollens are discharged into the air, some plants (hazelnut, walnut, etc.) open their flowers before their leaves, so that pollination may take place while their leaves are still undeveloped. Flowers are found on three parts of cereals and pines to facilitate pollination. In this case, the leaves are so organised as not to be an obstacle to the movement of the pollen.
Pollens Aimed at their Target
To have a better understanding of the amazing features of plants which are fertilised by means of the wind, let us take another example:
Rockets have to follow a pre-determined trajectory to reach their targets. For this reason, very careful calculations have to go into the planning of the rocket if it is to reach its target. For instance, the rocket's features, its motor capacity and flight speed, along with particulars of weather conditions, such as air density, must be programmed in detail. Furthermore, there has to be exact knowledge of the structure of the target area and the prevailing conditions there. And these factors have to be arrived at by making the most minute measurements. Otherwise the rocket will go off course and fail to reach its target. For a rocket to successfully hit its target, many engineers have to work together and think everything out in great detail. It is clear that success in aiming at and hitting the target is the product of teamwork, fine calculation, and superior technology.
The flawless reproduction system in cones resembles rockets' being aimed at a target, in that everything is very accurately pre-planned with very sensitive adjustments. Many details, such as the direction of the air current, the different thicknesses of cones, the shape of the leaves, etc., have been specially taken into account and reproduction plans built on the basis of this information.
The existence of such complex structures in plants raises the question of how these mechanisms came about. Let us answer that question with another. Can this structure in cones be the work of chance?
The system in-built in the rockets is the result of long years of study and hard work by highly intelligent and knowledgeable engineers who are experts in their field. The complex structures in the cones, which have nearly the same working system as rockets, have been especially planned in the same way. To claim that a rocket could have come about by chance and say that it could hit a target by following a random trajectory is just as illogical as claiming that the extraordinary movements of pollen, aimed at the target in much the same way, and the detailed structure in the cones, could have come about as the result of coincidences.
And, of course, it is impossible that pollens could have the ability and knowledge to find their different ways on this journey. At the end of the day, pollen is a collection of cells. Going even deeper, it is something made up of unconscious atoms. There is no doubt that a cone's possession of a system so replete with detailed information about fertilisation is the result of its perfect creation by God, the Almighty and All-Knowing.
Another important point in the fertilisation of pine trees is the wind's being kept under control. The winds' performing their transport duties in such a flawless way is without doubt due to God, the Lord of all the worlds who directs the whole affair from heavens to earth. God refers to this in a verse:
And We send the fecundating winds. (Surat al-Hijr: 22)
All the plants in the world, without exception, perform such operations. Each and every species has known what it has to do since it first appeared. This event, which happens with the assistance of wind currents, has been going on for millions of years with no difficulty, despite being based on unlikely probabilities. As we have seen, everything happens in its due place and with perfect timing, because each one of these mechanisms is obliged to work in unison with all of the others and at the same point in time. If one of them were absent, that would mean the end of that species of plant.
It is clear that these systems, which have no intelligence, will, or consciousness of their own, neither in part nor as a whole, play their role in these unbelievable events by the order and through the creation of God, Possessor of infinite power and knowledge, who controls everything every second and has planned everything down to the tiniest detail. The coming into existence of every living and non-living thing, and every event, result from God's creation. God reveals this secret in a holy verse:
It is God Who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number, the Command descending down through all of them, so that you might know that God has power over all things and that God encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Surat at-Talaq: 12)
To illustrate this point, let us imagine that we see a faultless technological implement, factory, or building, every detail of which has been planned with forethought: we feel no doubt that each one of these has a planner. We know, of course, that they were made by knowledgeable people and that there was control over every stage. Nobody can then stand up and claim that these things came about by themselves over time. We appreciate, respect, and praise the intelligence of those who planned them and what their skill produced.
And all living things were created together with systems planned down to the finest detail and dependent on the most sensitive balances. We see this wherever we look, without exception. There is no doubt that it is God who is worthy of praise here, who created all living creatures with all the abilities they possess. Like everything in the world, plants too maintain their existence thanks to the systems especially created by God, in other words they are under His control:
Everything in the heavens and on the earth belongs to Him. God is Rich Beyond Need and Praiseworthy. (Surat al-Hajj: 64)
The keys of the Unseen are in His possession. No one knows them but Him. He knows everything in the land and on the sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it. There is no seed in the darkness of the earth, and nothing moist or dry which is not recorded in a Clear Book. (Surat al-An'am: 59)
Pollinators On Duty
As we have already mentioned, some plant species reproduce by having their pollen carried by animals such as insects, birds, bees, and butterflies.
The relationship between plants, which allow animals to disperse their pollen, and the animals which perform this duty amazes observers. Because in order to set up and perpetuate this system of mutual give and take, these living creatures attract and influence each other in quite expert ways. Generally speaking, it was at first thought that in their relationship with animals, plants played a very small role. Whereas researchers have put forward results completely at odds with this opinion. Plants, playing a very active role, directly influence animals' behaviour patterns.They have perfected strategies by which they direct the animals which will carry their pollen.
For example, plants' colour signals indicate to birds and other animals which fruits are ripe and ready for dispersal. The amount of nectar present, linked to the colour of flowers, increases the chances of fertilisation by encouraging the pollinator to stay on the plant longer. And specific floral odors attract the right pollinators at exactly the right time.5
Plants also sometimes use methods of deception to initiate the pollen-carrying process. The animal which is to carry out the particle spreading, generally falls into a trap laid by the plant, and in this way the plant achieves it aim.
Methods used by Plants: Colour, Shape, and Scent
As well as informing pollinators the presence of flowers, colour also helps to advertise their nectar reward status. When a pollinator approaches, the flower gives off stimulatory signals, such as scent, to show the insect the way to the nectar site. The colour patterning of flowers directs the pollinator to the centre where the nectar is located, and thus enables fertilisation.6
Plants too know about the guiding function of the colours they possess. In fact, they deceive animals by employing this feature in a most conscious manner. Some plants which have no nectar use the colour features of nectar-producing flowers to attract insects to them. One very good example of this is the red cephelanthera, a species of orchid, and blue bellflowers which grow in forest regions in Mediterranean climates. While the the bellflowers give off a nectar which is most attractive to bees, the red cephelanthera does not possess the characteristics to do this. But it is the same wild bee, known locally as the "leafcutter," which carries out the fertilisation of both these totally different plants. While the leafcutter bees are fertilising the blue bellflowers, they feel the need to fertilise the red cephelanthera too. Bees fertilising a plant with no nectar attracted scientists' interest and they researched the reason for the bee's behaviour.
The answer to this question came as the result of research carried out with a device called a "spectrophotometer." From this it was realised that the leafcutter bees are unable to distinguish between the respective wavelengths of the light given off by the two different flowers. In other words, although human beings can distinguish between the light wavelengths given off by the blue bellflower and the red cephelanthera, since they can see the difference in colour between the flowers, wild bees cannot see the difference. Colour is an important factor for pollinators, and the bee, which goes to the blue bellflower, which gives off pollen, also visits and enables the fertilisation of the red cephelanthera which grows beside it, and which it sees as being the same colour. As we see, this orchid continues down the generations thanks to its "hidden resemblance" to blue bellflower.7
Some species of plant actually announce their pollen reward to insects by changing the colour of their blossoms. The following is an example:
In a letter, naturalist Fritz Muller discussed a plant called Lantana, which grows in the Brazilian forests:
We have here a Lantana the flowers of which last three days, being yellow on the first, orange on the second, purple on the third. This plant is visited by various butterflies. As far as I have seen the purple flowers are never touched. Some species inserted their proboscis (mouth parts) both into yellow and orange flowers, others… exclusively into the yellow flowers of the first day. This is, I think, an interesting case. Of the flowers fell off at the end of the first day the inflorescence (flower) would be much less conspicuous, if they did not change their color much time would be much less conspicuous, if they did not change their color much time would be lost by the butterflies inserting their proboscis in already fertilized flowers.8
As Muller observed, the flower's changing colour is in the interests of both the plant and the pollinator. Plants whose flowers change colour offer the fertilising agents a lot of nectar when the flowers are young. As the flowers grow older, not only does their colour change, but they also contain less nectar. By correctly interpreting the color changes the pollinators save energy by not fruitlessly visiting plants which have little or no nectar.
Another of the methods which plants use to attract birds or insects is the scent given off by their flowers. Scents, which are just pleasant to us, actually serve to attract insects. The scent given off by flowers has the property of showing the way to the insects around it. When an insect smells the scent it realises that there is delicious nectar stored up for it nearly. It then heads straight for the source of the smell. When it reaches the flower, it will try to get the nectar and pollen will stick to it. The same insect will also leave behind pollen which stuck to it from another flower it visited, and will thus bring about fertilisation. It is not even aware of the important job it does. Its only aim is to reach the nectar it smells.
Plants' Deception Methods
We said that some plants use methods of deception. These plants do not have nectar with which to attract insects. These kinds of plants are fertilised by their making use of their similarities to insects. One species of orchid, the mirror orchid, possesses the shape and colour of a female bee in order to attract bees. This species of orchid is even able to give off a suitable chemical signal to attract male bees, and produces an effective pheromone (a special chemical).
The Cyprus bee orchid is another of the plants which imitate insects to ensure their fertilisation. The number of orchids employing this technique is quite large, and the methods used differ from one to the other. Some imitate a female bee with its head pointing upwards, others have the head pointing downwards. For example, the yellow bee orchid uses the second method. For this reason their modes of fertilisation differ.9
Another species of orchid which imitates female bees is the dragon orchid. The lip of the dragon orchid's flower mimics the wingless female wasp so competently that only male wasps show any interest in them. Some members of the orchid family manage to attract insects to them, even if they have no nectar to offer. They secure the landing of male wasps on an area in the lower part of the flower by imitating the female wasp and giving off an attractive scent. The wasp which lands on the flower attempts to mate, and as a result, the orchid's pollinea are fixed on his body. Thanks to this deception, it deposits the pollen stuck on its body on another flower on which it lands with the same aim.10
Another plant which imitates the features of female animals is the hammer orchid. The reproductive mechanism of this orchid, which grows in dry grasslands of South Australia, is quite amazing. The hammer orchid has just one leaf, in the shape of a heart, and shows a total resemblance to the female wasp. While the male wasps fly, the females have no wings, and spend most of their time in the soil. When the time comes for the females to mate, they come out from under the ground so that the males can find them, and climb to the top of a tall plant stem. Once atop, they give off their mating smell and await the arrival of a male.
A special feature of the male wasps is that they reach the orchids two weeks before the females. This is a most interesting situation, because there are no female wasps around, only orchids which look just like female wasps and which are waiting for fertilisation. And when the male wasps come to the orchids, they smell an odour similar to that given off by female wasps. This is emitted by the orchid. Under the influence of this smell, the male wasps land on the orchid leaves. This triggers the plant's spring-loaded 'elbow' joint causing the wasp to fall on its reproductive organ. While the wasp attempts to escape from the flower, two pollen-laden sacs stick to the back of its head or to its back. In this way, when the wasp goes to other orchids, the pollen stuck to its back serves to fertilise them.11 As we have seen, there is a most harmonious relationship between the hammer orchid and the wasp. This symbiosis is most important for the reproduction of the plant. Because if successful pollination did not take place, in other words, if the pollen were not to be transported from the insect to another plant of the same species, then fertilisation would not take place.
There are many examples in nature of such accord as exists between the hammer orchid and the wild bees. Sometimes differences between flowers can be the reason for such a relationship. For example, it is very easy for some insects to enter some flowers, because that part of the flower where the pollen lies is open, and insects and bees can easily enter these regions and reach the pollen. Some plants have a nectar entrance of such a size as can be entered only by certain animals. For instance, in some situations bees push themselves through these gaps so as to reach the nectar in the flower. It is very difficult, even impossible, for other living things to do what the bee does so very easily.
Bees and other insects, on the other hand, are unable to fertilise flowers with long corolla (petals) tubes. Only long-tongued insects, such as butterflies and moths can fertilise these flowers.12
As we have seen from all these examples, there is a totally flawless harmony between insects, whose bodily structure is entirely suited to that of the plants, and the plants themselves.
It is impossible for the reciprocity in such a "lock and key" relationship to have come about by chance, as the evolutionists claim. Which means that to expect this to come about by chance contradicts the logic of the theory of evolution as maintained by evolutionists. According to the evolutionists' claims about natural selection, a life form which is not adapted to its environment either has to develop new mechanisms within itself or must slowly disappear. In this situation, according to the mechanism of natural selection, these plants, not being fertilizable by insects by reason of their particular flower structure, would either have disappeared or have had to change the form of their flowers. And in the same way, insects which can fertilise only these flowers because of the structure of their mouths, would either have disappeared for lack of food or have changed the structure of the organs they use to gather food.
But when we look at plants with long corolla tubes, or other plants, we see that they have developed no adaptation, in other words, a change or other supplementary mechanism. Again, no adaptation of any sort is to be seen in living creatures such as butterflies and moths.
These flowers, benefiting from a symbiotic relationship with the pollinators which fertilise them, have carried on living for many years, right up to the present.
What has been explained so far is just a short summary of methods employed by some different species of plant to survive down the generations. You will find all these details in any biology book, but those same sources are unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of the reasons for plants employing this pollen dispersal process. Because in every process carried out, features such as thought, reasoning, decision-making, and calculation-that we cannot ascribe to plants-are in evidence: we all know that a plant does not have the consciousness to perform such activities. Imagine the scenario we should be faced with if we said that a plant carried out all these processes of its own volition:
The plant "calculates" that its aerodynamic structure is suited to pollen dispersal by wind, and every subsequent generation employs the same method. Others "understand" that they will not be able to make sufficient use of the wind and, for this reason, make use of insects to carry their pollen. They "know" that they have to attract insects to themselves in order to be able to multiply, and try various methods to bring this about. They particularly identify what insects like. After finding which nectar and scents are effective for which insects, they produce scents by a variety of chemical processes and give them off when they have established the exact time to do so. They identify the taste in the nectar that insects will find pleasant and the totality of the substances in it, and produce these themselves. If the scent and nectar are not enough to draw insects to them, they decide to try another method, and, to suit this situation, make "deceptive imitations". Furthermore, they "calculate" the volume of pollen which will reach another plant of the same species and also the distance it has to travel, and on the basis of this, begin to produce it in the most suitable quantities and at the most appropriate time. They "think" of the possibilities that might prevent the pollen from reaching its destination and "take precautions" against them.
Of course, such a scenario could not ever be a reality: in fact, this scenario breaks all the rules of logic. None of the above-mentioned strategies could be devised by an ordinary plant, because a plant cannot reason, cannot calculate time, cannot determine size and shape, cannot calculate the strength and direction of the wind, cannot determine for itself what kind of techniques it will need for fertilisation, cannot think that it will have to attract an insect it has never seen, and furthermore, cannot decide what methods it will need to be able to do any or all of these things.
No matter how much the details multiply, from what direction the subject is approached, and what logic is employed, the conclusion that there is something extraordinary in the relationship between plants and animals will not change.
These living things were created in harmony with one another. This flawless system of mutual benefit shows us that the force which created both flowers and insects knows both kinds of living things very well, is aware of all their needs, and created them to be complementary to one another. Both living things are the work of the Lord of all the worlds, God, who knows them very well, who indeed knows everything. They are charged with presenting God's greatness, His supreme power, and His flawless art to men.
A plant has no knowledge of its own existence, nor of the miraculous functions it performs, because it is under the control of God, who planned its every feature, who created everything in the universe, and who continues to create at every moment. This truth is announced to us by God in the Qur'an:
Shrubs and trees both bow down in prostration (to Him). (Surat ar-Rahman: 6)
The Pollination and Reproduction of Underwater Plants
Contrary to popular belief, reproduction by means of pollen is not limited to land plants. There are sea plants, too, which reproduce by this method. The first plant living in the open sea and reproducing by the pollination method, called "Zostera," was discovered in 1787 by the Italian botanist Filippo Cavolini.15
The reason for the belief that pollination is restricted to land plants was that the grains of land plant pollens that made contact with water split and ceased to function.
Studies carried out on plants which reproduce by pollination in water, show that this is another subject on which the theory of evolution finds itself in a quandary.
Plants which disperse their pollen by water are found in 31 genera in 11 different families, and in very different places, from northern Sweden to southern Argentina, from 40 metres below sea level to 4,800 metres high in Lake Titicaca in the Andes Mountains. From the ecological point of view, they live under very different conditions, from tropical rain forests to seasonal desert pools.16
The evolutionists' difficulties on this subject stem from the theory of evolution itself. Because, according to this theory, pollination was a method of reproduction which began to be used by plants after they started to live on land. Yet, it is known that there are some sea plants which use this method. For this reason evolutionists have named these plants "flowering plants which have gone back to the water." And yet the evolutionists have been unable to give any logical and scientific explanation of either when the plants went back to the water, the reasons which made them do so, how they went back to the water, or what shape the intermediate forms took.
Another problem for evolutionists arises from certain properties of water. As we revealed earlier, water is not at all a suitable environment for pollen to spread in, and generally leads to splitting in individual seeds. It is also difficult to make predictions about the movement of the water. There may be quite irregular currents in water, tides may suddenly sink plants, or carry them considerable distances on the surface. Notwithstanding these factors, aquatic plants use the water they grow in as a pollinator with great success, having been created in such a way as to be able to operate from below the surface. Here are some examples of these plants:
Male Vallisneria flowers develop in that part of the plant which remains under water. Then, in order to reach plants with female characteristics, they leave the main body and float free. The flower is created to rise easily to the surface once it is free. At this point the flower looks like a globular bud. Its leaves have closed over it and wrapped up the flower like the peel of an orange. This particular structural form provides protection from the negative effects of the water for that part which carries the pollen. When the flowers rise to the surface, the petals, which were formerly closed, separate from one another and curl back, spreading over the surface of the water. The organs which carry the pollen emerge above the leaves. These function like miniature sails, able to move in even the slightest breeze. They also keep the Vallisneria's pollen above the surface of the water.
As for the flowers of the female plant, they float on the water, on the end of a long stalk rooted in the lake or pond bed. The leaves of the female flower open on the surface, forming a slight depression. This depression serves to create a gravitational pull on the male plant when it approaches the female plant. In fact, as the male flower passes by the female it is drawn towards it and the two flowers meet. In this way the pollen reaches the female flower's reproductive organ and pollination takes place.17
The male flower's protecting the pollen while it is closed in the water, its rising up and opening on the surface, and its adopting a form enabling it to move comfortably on the water are details requiring especial consideration. These features of the flower resemble those of the lifeboats used on seacraft, which open automatically on being thrown into the sea. These boats emerged as the result of long joint studies by the designers of many industrial products. The planning faults which emerged when the boats were first produced, and again the flaws which emerged when trials were carried out on the boat, were taken in hand again, the faults were put right, and as a result of repeated tests a properly functioning system was arrived at.
Let us consider these studies in the context of the Vallisneria's position: Unlike the designers of the lifeboat, the Vallisneria did not have more than one chance. The first Vallisneria in the world had only one chance. Only the use of a system which was completely successful from the first test would ensure the chance of survival for later generations. A faulty system would not pollinate the female flower, and the plant would disappear from the world, as it would never be able to multiply. As we have seen, it is impossible for the Vallisneria's pollination strategy to have come about in stages. Ab initio, this plant was created with a structure enabling it to send out its pollen in water.
Another water plant which possesses an effective pollination strategy is the Halodule, which grows along sandy coasts in the Fiji Islands. This plant's floating long, noodlelike pollens sway from under the water to the surface. This design enables the Halodule to hit even more marks than the Vallisneria. Furthermore, the pollen noodles have coatings of proteins and carbohydrates that make them sticky. They adhere to one another on the surface of the water and form long rafts. Millions of floral search vehicles of this type are carried along as the tide returns to the shallow pools where the female plants float. With the collision of these search vehicles with the female plant's reproductive organs on the water's surface, pollination takes place easily and successfully.18
So far we have discussed plants, whose pollen is transported above or on the surface of the water. In this case the movement of the pollen is two-dimensional. Some species have pollination systems that operate in three dimensions - that is, below the surface.
Underwater pollination strategies are harder to implement than above-surface ones. Because in three-dimensional pollination, the results of even the slightest change in the movement of the pollen will have far-reaching effects. For this reason, it is much harder for the pollen to connect with the female organ under water than it is on the surface.
Nevertheless, Thalassia, a Caribbean plant, always lives under water, because it has been created with a pollination strategy to make the seemingly difficult conditions for pollination easier. Thalassia releases its round pollen under water, embedded in elongated strands. They are carried along by the waves, then stick to female flowers' reproductive organs and thus enable the plant to multiply.19
The pollen of the Thalassia and the Halodule being sent out embedded in strands increases the distance the search vehicles go. There is no doubt that this intelligent design is the work of God, who created both water plants and their pollination strategies in water, and who is aware of all creation.
Footnotes1. Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Facts on File Publications, 1988, P. 164
2. Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Facts on File Publications, 1988, p. 164
3. Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Science and Technology Journal), May 1995, p.76
4. Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Science and Technology Journal), May 1995, p.77
5. John King, Reaching for The Sun, 1997, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p.152
6. John King, Reaching for The Sun, 1997, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p.150
7. Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi, (Science and Technology Journal), February 1988, p.22
8. John King, Reaching for The Sun, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p.148-149
9. David Attenborough, The Private Life of Plants, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, p.128
10. David Attenborough, The Private Life of Plants, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, p.130
11. Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Facts on File Publications, 1988, p.143
12. The Guinness Encyclopedia of the Living World, Guinness Publishing, 1992, p.42-43
13. Robert, R.Halpern, Green Planet Rescue, A.B.D, The Zoological Society of Cincinnati Inc., p.26
14. David Attenborough, Life on Earth, Collins British Broadcasting Corporation, 1985, p.84
15. Scientific American, October 1993, p.68
16. Scientific American, October 1993, p.69
17. Scientific American, October 1993, p.70-71
18. Scientific American, October 1993, p.70
19. Scientific American, October 1993, p.71