Tuesday, 30 November 2010

An elaborate case for survival

What would you say if I asked you for your favourite flower?  I bet you would each come up with something different and give various reasons why.

Is it the rose, with its heady scent to get you through the summer?

The graceful poppy, cheery sunflowers or the first snowdrop to spur you on until spring?

The humble daisy or walking through a bluebell-carpeted woodland?

It's not surprising we all have our personal favourites, there's a lot to choose from with at least a quarter of a million different flower species to take our pick from!  For me flowers are a national treasure, adding pleasure, interest and perhaps possessing a quality to incur an innate sense of well being.  It is comforting to stumble across an old friend, uplifting to find a sudden splash of colour.  Like pulling on an old, worn jumper or sipping on a steaming mug of cocoa.  Nothing quite warms my heart more than laying down in a field full of golden buttercups or the intense splash of block red from defiant poppies growing on wasteland.

The immense variety among flowers is staggering, not just between species but from flower to flower!  From reflecting almost every colour of the spectrum, to their texture - shiny, metallic, velvety, matt or waxy.  The unique intricacies of scent, petal patterns, shape, leaf types and size (from the teeny tiny at only 1mm diameter to those who span up to 1 metre!) are all by clever design.  The variation is all to ensure that the flowers grab the attention of the right pollinator, that the flower formation suits the method of pollination and for a third curious reason: fidelity.  Flowers are pollinated with pollen from another flower of the same species.  Insects and other pollinating animals should really be faithful to the flower that they pollinate and not move around too much between different species, thus the flower must be distinctive and easily recognized.  Clever, eh?


  1. A truly delightful post. I really never thought about the need for bees to be faithful to their favourite flower. Plenty of food for thought there.

    I have to say, it's poppies with me. So dramatic!

  2. Poppies for me too Nick, now I'm sure you hadn't guessed that!!