Replanting Flowers the Why

When we thrill to the sight of a beautiful flower we may forget its real purpose in the over-all plan and think only of its aesthetic qualities… color and fragrance, and perhaps be conscious of texture and form.
We may even forget momentarily that the lovely blossoms are not borne solely for the enjoyment of man.

Much more has been entrusted to the flower than appears on the surface. Each part of it was designed for some special purpose. It is the reproductive part of the plant.

Nature A Random Collection Unrelated Life

It may appear at times that the world of nature is filled with a random collection of unrelated life forms but if we can see no relationship, it is because we do not know or understand about it.

In the past, even those who observed carefully were very slow to see the connection between the pollen and the seed of a plant, and were totally unaware of the bee’s importance.

What Pollen Is

Have you ever sniffed a fragrant blossom and then discovered your nose was stained with a powdery substance?
yellow lantana bloom

That’s the pollen which must be transferred in some way from the anthers of the stamens to the stigma of the pistil, or seeds cannot form? Roots anchor the plants to a given spot they are not mobile and cannot carry the pollen themselves.

The wind does this in some instances but the flowers entice the bees, butterflies and certain other insects to help with the work.

They accomplish this first by attracting them with color and fragrance and then by rewarding them with gifts of nectar. You may have noted flowers with blotches and streaks of vivid color. These are called honey guides and aid the bees in finding the nectar.

Simple and Complex Flowers

Some flowers are puzzling to study because they have such intricate parts. The true lily, lilium, is one of the simpler ones. If we examine a number of different kinds we find that the flower parts come in threes or a multiple of three.

Each one has six segments (we commonly refer to them as petals but the three outer ones should be called sepals), and six prominent stamens (the pollen-bearing organs) and one pistil, the top of which is called the stigma and on which the pollen must be spread.

flowering banana

Plants that are not true lilies but which have been given the name lily outnumber the liliums. You can be quite sure if the majority of blossoms on a plant with a “lily name” contains less, or more, than six segments that it is not a lilium.

But do not be misled… all liliums have six segments but not all flowers having six segments are liliums!

The Petunia – Five-Pointed Star Flower

The petunia belongs to a family which has flat five-pointed star flowers. In the case of the petunia the points have become somewhat rounded. The long tube of the flower fits loosely into five small leaf-like sepals.

Look closely into the tube and you will see the pistil and the five stamens with their pollen. In flying from flower to flower to get the nectar the bee inadvertently also gets some of the pollen on its body which is then rubbed off on the next receptive stigma it passes.

The tubes of the petunia blossoms are restricted while these on the penstemon flowers are swollen but also set rather loosely into a five-parted calyx. The blossoms are two-lipped, the upper lip having two lobes and the lower lip three lobes.

The mouthlike flowers are characteristic of the family to which the penstemon belongs. In the tube you will see the pistil, and the four stamens containing their offering of pollen. A fifth stamen may be bearded or not but without pollen.

The sunflower, common name for helianthus, has daisy-like blossoms. It belongs to the flower family which, according to botanists, has reached the highest plane of development.

What we think of as a flower is more accurately an assemblage of flowers or florets. These in the center of the head, supplied with the materials to form seeds (stamens-and pistils) are called disc-flowers. The banners around the edge that we think of as petals are the ray-flowers with their alluring color to attract the bees.

The Goal of Flowering

The goal of flowering plants is their blossoms and in most cases this is solely for the production of seeds. But we knew that they do fulfill an important place in man’s world which has nothing to do with seeds.

The beauty and fragrance of their blossoms have carried many a silent message of consolation and cheer to those who needed something to lighten depressed hearts or to give renewed courage. Flowers are used everywhere on happier occasions because they charm man as much as the bees.

Thus it frequently happens that the gardener does everything possible to fulfill the plant’s ambition to produce flowers by feeding, watering, and cultivating to the best of his knowledge but thwarts the plant’s plan for seeds by keeping the blossoms picked to encourage more blossoms to form, or to conserve the plant’s strength for another year of bloom.

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