Herself's Houseplants

Killing plants so you don't have to

Pretty flowers evolved as insect landing strips

Flying insects, comprising the vast majority of pollinators, stop at the plant to eat nectar and pick up pollen, which they then distribute as they visit additional flowers. Noted dePamphilis, “Pollinators are providing a very important service to the plant without which it couldn’t reproduce.”

To aid insects in finding the nectar — and thus, the pollen — many flowering plants have evolved to possess bright colors (hummingbirds and butterflies favor reds and yellows), as well as “nectar guides” that may only be visible in ultraviolet (UV) light—a wavelength of the light spectrum bees can see and people cannot. From a bee’s-eye-view, the UV colors and patterns in a flower’s petals dramatically announce the flower’s stash of nectar and pollen. [ read more Why are flowers beautiful? ]

One of the more interesting things we’ve learned lately is that many birds and insects see into the ultraviolet light spectrum, far beyond what we can see. So we are missing a big part of what makes flowers so interesting to them.