Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Salt Rush

In the grip of a pretty severe drought, nice flower pictures are a bit hard to come by locally, but really spectacular flower pictures are pretty regularly featured in the annual Botanical Society's Triarch student travel award for best botanical images competition.  This image of a salt rush inflorescence (Juncus breweri) shows that it pays to look closely sometimes.  This is a wind pollinated plant, so you wouldn't usually expect showy flowers, but up close these flowers are really pretty, pretty neat.  To capture pollen blowing in the wind, such plants often have big, feathery stigmas (surface area), and here the stigma's three branches are twisted into cork screws and pigmented pink (pink to red is pretty common color for such stigmas - not certain why).  The cork screw shapes probably cause air eddies that enhance sedimentation of pollen.  At any rate this was an award winner for Glenn Shelton of Humboldt State, and here's where you can see the other submissions for 2012.  The monetary awards help cover their travel costs to the meetings.  See if you can spot any of the other award winners.  Our young botanists can really take some great pictures. 

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