Field of Science

Ligularia in flower

Midsummer means lots of lilies and ligularias in this instance Ligularia japonica are in flower. It should be obvious that this is a member of the sunflower family, but that isn't so obvious to everyone. A recent visitor remarked, "Oh, that one has a big flower." In fact the flowers are pretty small, but they are grouped together into a large flat disk of an inflorescence that produces the image of a large flower. Each of the yellow "petals" is an individual ray flower whose corolla is a big strap shaped affair narrowing at its base to a little tube. The rest of the flowers are disk flowers with short symmetrical corolla tubes and you can see unopened disk flower buds in the center. So there are several dozen flowers open. The style extends out of each flower and the bilobed style makes a double loop at the top. Flowers open first around the margin (bottom) and proceed to open in towards the middle (top). No question that insect pollinators are reacting to a "floral" image presented by this inflorescence.

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