Copycat red nectar shows promise as a natural colorant and is gecko-approved

January 25, 2022
Backlit Nesocodon mauritianus. Credit: Rahul Roy and Clay Carter.

Plants that secrete colored nectars are part of an exclusive club. To date, only 70 plants in the world are on that list. The colors lure in pollinators, but more recently they sparked the interest of researchers and industry partners in search of natural colorant options. 

Over the past several years, a team of researchers, including Adrian Hegeman, professor in the Departments of Horticultural Science and Plant and Microbial Biology, sorted out how plants produced distinctive red nectar and its makeup in a newly published study in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.