Thursday, July 11, 2019

Flowers: They Aren't Just Pretty

I have posted a new video in the series Silent Struggle of Plants: Flowers, TheyAren’t Just Pretty.

In this video, we take a close look at a trumpet creeper flower (Campsis radicans), an abundant summertime vine in much of the United States. It is certainly a pretty flower. But flowers have to pay for themselves, or else the plant loses its investment in the marketplace of evolutionary struggle, as explained in the previous essay. A plant that spends too much on its flowers faces extinction as surely as a plant that spends too little.

In particular, a flower has to be a successful advertisement to pollinators. The trumpet creeper uses its bright red color to attract hummingbirds from far away, and offers a reward of pollen and nectar at the bottom of a long tube that is perfectly suited to the hummingbird’s long bill. (Of course, no hummingbirds dared to visit during this video.) Other pollinators tend to ignore trumpet creepers; bees, for example, cannot see red, and they tend to not notice these flowers.

I hope to show in this video—and in the next one also—that flowers aren’t just pretty, but are an investment in successful reproduction. A plant cannot afford to produce showy, but useless, flowers.

I am working on a book, tentatively entitled Silent Struggle: The Hidden World of Plants. Watch for it!

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