Sunday, 3 May 2015

Day 181 - Stupendous Spring Flowers

Hi all today's Day 181 and it's been Spring for quite a long time now so I thought I would do something to do with Spring. Also, if you live in then UK, you'll know that today's a very grey day so I thought I'd do something to cheer everybody up. This needs to be something vibrant and bright. What better to do than Spring Flowers?! They always cheer me up when I see all of the colours just jumping up out of the ground.

I've been looking around for lots of different plants and flowers to show how some types are pollinated or reproduce. I hope you think that I've done a pretty good job at that.

Wind Pollinated
  • So what happens if you're a tree or a plant that flowers very early and there aren't many insects around. Well some plants use the wind to spread their pollen. 
  • Wind pollinated plants tend to have very simple structures to release their pollen as they don't need fancy flowers or smells to attract insects.
  • They release large quantities of light dry pollen into the air and the wind carries this around. Female structures on the plants are designed to catch the pollen. This is just down to luck mainly so lots of pollen has to be produced as a lot won't be caught. Grass is wind pollinated and one grass flower head can produce 10 million pollen grains!
  • Sycamore flowers emerging
  • Lots of our native trees are wind pollinated including Oak and Sycamore as well as Pine trees and nut trees. 
  • In the photo here you can see Sycamore flowers emerging with the new leaves of the tree. 
  • Many of the world's most important crops are wind-pollinated. Things like corn, rice and rye.

Insect Pollinated
      Bee covered in pollen
    • Some flowers are insect pollinated and you can see that in action here in some of the photos. In the first picture you can see how the bee is covered in pollen which sticks to it as it gathers nectar.
    • As the insects go on their way feeding from plant to plant the pollen, which has a spiky surface to stick to the insect, is passed on to other plants. Special structures in the flowers called anthers produce pollen and sticky ones called stigma collect it from the insect again.
      Witch Hazel flower
    • The Witch Hazel in the picture here flowers in our garden in January, I didn't see many insects then! I thought that it must be pollinated by wind but as it is colourful and has a lovely scent I looked into this further. It seems this plant is pollinated by winter moths.
    • Something that kind of contradicts the last fact of Wind Pollination is that 84% of Europe's crops are pollinated by insects. If anyone knows which one is true please tell me.
    • Weirdly, attempts have been made to try and put a price on Insect Pollination (how much it would take to do it without them). 
      This fly is helping out too
    • The United Nations did release a report called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. In this they stated that Insect Pollination was valued at £134,000,000,000 (134 billion Pounds [153 billion Euros]).
    • It's true that Insect Pollination is priceless (we need to keep our insects alive and well as they help to keep US alive by pollinating flowers. This is one reason why I'm really happy that we're getting bees on our allotment soon :-) yay!) but it seems that the world that we live in, everything needs a price.

    Bulbs and roots
    • Some plants have flowers and attract insects, like the Wood Sorrel in the photo here, but don't need to produce seeds to reproduce.
      Wood Sorrel and insect
    • Wood Sorrel has special roots called rhizomes which spread through the ground and new plants can pop up from these. 
    • I learnt a lot of new words in my research today, Wood Sorrel flowers are 'cleistogamous' which means they undergo pollination and fertilisation before the flower opens so they don't need insects.
    • They are a lovely little plant and as you can see in the picture their leaves and flowers close up when its not too sunny.
    • Celandines grow from little bulbs or tubers and spread very easily as they make little bulbs at the joints of their leaves. If you get them in your garden that can make them a bit of a problem as they are very small and hard to control. 
    • Something I didn't know about Celandines is that they were William Wordsworth`s favourite flower and he wrote three poems about them - 'The small Celandine', 'To the same flower' and 'To the small Celandine' 
    • Celandine comes from the Greek word chelidon which means swallow and just like Swallows they are seen as a sign of spring.
    Wood Anemone
    • Wood Anemone is another lovely woodland flower that I've been seeing a lot of in my walks lately. I spotted the one in the photo here at Garbutt Woods.
    • It flowers around March to May to make use of early spring sun before the tree leaves come out and make it dark on the woodland floor. 
    • They can produce seeds but they aren't often fertile so instead it spreads by growth of its root structure, but this is slow, around 6 feet in 100 years! Because of this it is often taken as a good indicator of Ancient Woodland.
    • Another pretty flower that's started to show itself in the woods round by me now is the Bluebell
    • The UK is actually home to half of the world`s Bluebell population though the native bluebell is a little threatened by the Spanish bluebell which has been introduced to the UK.
    • Bluebells grow from bulbs and propagate themselves by seed or by sending out runners which more bluebells form on. They do this so much that they can spread rapidly and, in some people's gardens, have become weeds, but what a pretty weed problem to have!
    Well, that brightened up my grey, rainy day here in Yorkshire, I hope it brightens up yours too.
    Hope you enjoyed,


    1 comment:

    1. Lovely photos Zach! Bluebells are one of my favourite spring flowers, the colour always makes me smile. - Tasha