Lovely flower faces, and flower heads alone, are better for attracting pollinators than determining a plant species

Too often, people talk about the different "wildflowers" as if they are different plant species, but they are really only a small part of any species of plant. I've come to the conclusion that while plants created flowers to attract pollinators, humans were also attracted. The degree to which we then focused on the flowers came for much less benefit than the pollinators got for that focus. In the process, the photos people took of any species of plant has tended to focus too much on the flowers, and their faces, more than is best to identify which species the plant is.

Know that distinguishing features for any given plant species may come with any of the following: a view at how the plant as a whole looks; or how any of the countless plant parts look; or with other features of the plant, such as smells, or the way they grow; as well as with photos of, or notes on, the habitat, and plant community, they are growing in. A flower face, or even whole flowering top of plant, alone, only shows a small percentage of the potential distinguishing features of that species. Also views that show both side and face of a flower show more features than just face views. For flowers that form any kind of tube, a side view is needed to show the shape of that tube, and there may be sepals, or leafy bracts, on the side, or back, of a flower, that have distinguishing features of the species. While the time you have to spend may be limited, views showing, and notes on, more features of a plant, improve your chances of getting a good ID.

Also know that the character of the leaves on a plant, that sends up a flower stalk from the ground, changes as you go up, from the larger, more complex, more distinctive, basal leaves, at the bottom of the flower stalk, to the smaller, less complex, leaves further up the stalk, closer to the flowering area, and going into the flowering area, which may have tiny, simple leaves, potentially with no more shape than a tiny finger, just called "bracts". So the most useful photos of leaves are generally the basal leaves, or those that are closest to the basal leaves, at the bottom of the plant, that aren't shriveled up yet. Occasionally cauline leaves (leaves on the flower stalk) have distinctive features, so also having a view of leaves from the middle of the stalk doesn't hurt.

With many groups of plants a view of just a flower face, often only allows me to say which genus it is in, or maybe only which family. Also know that the Aster Family has many species with similar yellow flowers, such as the many dandelion look-a-likes, so for many of these yellow flowered Aster Family members better distinguishing features tend to be found in the basal leaves, rather than the flowers. So if you only have time for one photo of these, one showing the basal leaves will be better than one of a flower, though having views that show both are even better. For some other Aster Family members good views of the side of the flower head, showing the usually green, often somewhat leafy, "involucral bracts", on the side of the whole flower head, may be the biggest key to determining the species.

So remember that if you are overly distracted by the reproductive organs of a plant, that is the flowers, and their faces, you may miss offering key distinguishing features that may allow others to determine, not just how pretty the flowers are, but what species the plant is!

Posted on Οκτώβριος 16, 2021 1228 ΠΜ by stewartwechsler stewartwechsler


Hi Stewart,

I wholeheartedly agree. The flower gets all ‘the lové - But the rest of the plant needs attention too. I think it simply comes down to an attraction to vibrant colours. See this article in Nature discussing how human attraction to certain flower colours has meant that some species get ‘all the lové while others are ignored. I wouldn’t doubt that a flowers’ ability to attract humans may determine their future ability to be pollinated, especially considering the die off of many bumblebee and other pollinating insect populations

Αναρτήθηκε από angelique_k πάνω από 2 χρόνια πριν

Thank you @angelique_k !

Αναρτήθηκε από stewartwechsler πάνω από 2 χρόνια πριν

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