Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Closed?


A friend once brought a picture of this plant to me and asked why don't the flowers ever open.  An interesting question surely.  TPP once studied a tropical flower that looked quite open but wasn't functional until it reclosed.  But this is called the bottle gentian, Gentiana andrewsii, and the flowers don't open any more than this.  It takes a big robust pollinator, like a bumblebee, to force its way into the flower, and in the process move some pollen around.  This is an interesting way for the plant to select a particular pollinator.  Sorry honey bee, you can't pollinate this native plant.  This can make a nice addition for fall, partial shade flowering.  Someone is bound to ask about when do the flower buds open.


Anonymous said...

Dearest Phactor,

thanks for introducing this Gentian to me. I feel that if I was a sneaky insect I would just bite a hole near the petal base to get to the goodies...does this happen?

yours floristically,

The Phytophactor said...

Good thought but bumblebees are the usual nectar robbers. And this flower basically limits visitors to just bumblebees. So no advantage.