Field of Science

Relief from winter doldrums: 2. Visit the greenhouse

Lincolnland is still in the grips of cold and snow, although it does look pretty right now. Usually the midwest is just sort of snowlessly bleak. But for the second in my series on seeking relief from the winter doldrums, let's visit the greenhouse and see what's going on that isn't monochromatic.

This is a pretty spectacular flower, Thunbergia mysorensis. As the specific epithet suggests, this vine is native to southern India. A pair of reddish bracteoles encloses the base of each flower providing a constant display as the flowers open sequentially bottom to top. Morphologically; the inflorescence is pendent so the bottom is at the top and each flower twists 180 degrees to attain the correct orientation. The flowers produce copious nectar, often enough to drip over the bottom lip of the corolla, and are bird pollinated. The stigma and stamens occupy the top of the corolla tube where depending upon the stage of flowering (pollen accepting or pollen dispersing) one or the other makes contact with the visiting bird's head. Enjoy.

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