A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Year in My Yard: Adaptations

An adaptation is any trait or behavior that improves survival and ultimately reproductive success of an individual.  Adaptations are found in all living things and define how each species came to be and will change in response to its environment. Flowers have adapted to suit the needs of their pollinators while expending as little energy as possible.  Flower color, shape, scent and time of blooming are adaptations to target the pollinators.

This post will illustrate some different adaptations found in flowers in my yard.

Blue Flag

Blue Flag Iris

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The wild geranium comes in pink.  Through selective breeding, humans have created different breeds that have exploited the subtle variation existing in that wild populations (see above).  Just like every person looks a little different every individual plant has slightly different characteristics.  Humans have exploited those slight difference to create the variety of domestic plants and animals we see every day.

June 1: Baptista

In the natural world, those slight variations give slight reproductive advantages to individuals.  The Baptista has a unique flower shape that forces the bee to open the petals to access the nectar.  This prevents any free-loading insects from getting a free meal without pollinating.  Those flowers that hold the door too tight don’t get pollinated, those who don’t hold it tight enough waste energy producing nectar without getting pollinated.  Those flowers that are “just right” produce the most offspring.

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Nightshade

June 2:  Nightshade

Other flowers have a different approach.  They have an all access policy that invites opportunistic pollinators.   The picture above is the flower of legendary nightshade.  The picture is a bit out of focus, I had my toddler hanging off my arm and couldn’t keep it steady.

 

dianthus

June 6:  Dianthus

 

Wood Sorrel

June 6: Wood Sorrel

 

Red hawkweed

June 6:  Orange Hawkweed

 

Lesser Stitchwort

June 6:  Lesser Stitchwort

 

Rose

June 7: Rose

 

The many different shapes, colors, sizes and scents of flowers are a direct result of 70 million years of relationships between plant and pollinator.  The variation has increased throughout the generations leading to the variety flowers we see today.

Up Next:  Patterns

 

 

 

 

 

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5 responses

  1. Kathyalane

    Thank you!

    >

    June 18, 2016 at 07:15

  2. Interesting article and lovely shots.

    June 18, 2016 at 13:08

  3. The bright orange in your hawkweed caught my eye. The colour is eye-popping. It also reminded me of how different our ideas about plants are. Our county put a bounty ($50 per plant, in situ) on hawkweed in 2011 (a prohibited noxious weed).

    June 26, 2016 at 08:33

    • I mowed over the flowers a day after I took the picture. $50 per plant would be a second income with the amount of hawkweed I have in my yard!

      June 26, 2016 at 08:53

      • Thanks for the chuckle … I’m sure our county would have heart palpitations at the sight. 🙂

        June 26, 2016 at 09:04

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