Many plants aren’t ‘earth-shaking’ like those in my book, 10 Plants That Shook the World (Annick Press, 2013), but look around a summer garden and they make you wonder…..
For instance, why are there so many different shapes of flowers? All are designed to attract pollinators like bees, butterflies or hummingbirds which touch parts of the flower while seeking food, and then carry pollen to another bloom. Having such an assortment of shapes guarantees that biodiversity — the incredible number and variety of living things on Earth – will continue.
Here’s a daylily: it has several blooms on each stalk, but each bloom lasts only one day. It’s cup-shaped, so bees are funneled into the centre where they pick up pollen.
But here’s an Echinacea, or coneflower. Its petals seem to stretch open until the bloom is almost inside out, hanging down so the centre holding the pollen is thrust upwards – easy for a bee to see and explore.
And this one is the bloom on a Buddleia, or butterfly bush. It’s large and free-hanging, but look closer. It is composed of many small florets. Individually they wouldn’t allow a big bee to enter, but hummingbirds can poke their needle-thin bills and tongues into each one for nectar.
All have different shapes and sizes, yet each of these flowers has a successful way to attract the agent that will ensure the development of seeds for a new generation, and ensure the endless variety of garden flowers.