On surprising flowers

The development and dispersal of the first flowering plant on this planet changed this planet. (Botany rules, baybee! Don’t you be doubting me!) But, well, most of us see so many flowers in the course of a normal spring day that we don’t really see them. Not really. They’re just a part of the landscape: the landscape of a normal spring.

In times of high stress, though, many things hurry up and procreate. We notice things like post-war baby booms in our own kind; we also (and maybe not quite so obviously) tend toward sex, period, after traumatic events. I am certainly in no position to state that we are the only species who have recreational sex; I do know, though, that not all human sex is procreative in nature. Plants, though? Plants have no capacity for simple whoopee. It’s all business, all the time…at least when flowers are around.

And it is a stressful spring around here for many of my plants. Many of them that never normally flower, especially at this time of year, think the world is going to end so they’re making babies NOW. It must be the cold. Many tap-rooted things, like these angelica above, really don’t appreciate my having moved them earlier this spring. Likewise, if certain seedlings are chilled sometime during their development, they bolt into flower.  (It’s called vernalization.)  Many of the smaller brassicas (tatsoi, bok choy, rapini) are doing this now in my gardens (sniff!). Even my rhubarb has had it.

Not that I don’t like a flowering universe: I do. I’m just curious as to why NOW. Why this spring. Are they trying to tell me something?

7 responses to “On surprising flowers

  1. Sometimes I get so scared, I just have to stop thinking.
    It looks like the pyracantha is about to burst into ugly orange berries (me no like pyracantha), and… isn’t that a fall phenomenon?

  2. I’m so glad I stumbled into this place [he looks down at his boots to see if he’s tracking mud all around]. I love organic foods, and I rather enjoy sticking my fingers in the dirt as well. Mind if I poke my head in now and again? Promise I’ll knock…

    …and, oh, yes, the weather out here (I’m on the left coast usa) has been, well…’odd’. I’m trying to listen carefully to the flowers in my garden…

  3. Hey! My rhubarb did that too! A huge stalk grew up in the middle of the leaves and lots of tiny white flowers developed at the top. I was wondering what might have caused that but I’ll bet it was our cooler than usual spring around here.

    I read that you’re supposed to cut out the stalk right away if you want to see some red rhubarb stalks this season, but I figured the plant was working out some inner issues and who was I to mess with mother nature?

  4. Oh, me too. I’m seeing the same stuff here. And we’re supposed to get frost tonight. UGH!!

  5. CC: Beats me, IS it a fall phenom? (I know not that plant.) It’s just been so chilly here, with occasional forays to “normal” weather every two weeks or so. So I guess I am looking for a botanical oracle to give me insight to the rest of the season…maybe you’ve found yours??

    Mark, I adore new visitors, and old visitors too! I sometimes think I don’t encourage more comments with my closed-ended faunal/floral musings. But please don’t feel you need to knock first. One needs to take his boots off before entering our house first, though…

    Artemisia: Hah! I did the same thing: I figured it needed to work out its issues so I left it to flower.

    Angie: I know! I am feeling better that I never transplanted the now-flowering tomatoes out of the greenhouse this weekend, what with the frost warnings tonight! I will say I am a bit tired of the cold though. Your poor bird babies!

  6. Some of the weather changes may be tied to the current lack of sunspots. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries similar events were taking place. If you’re interested, you can google “Maunder Minimum”.

    The NOVA show left me wondering what the bees, or other insect pollinators did before the first flower?? Which came first, the bee or the pollen? All in time I guess.

    I love reading your blog, I’m learning a ton. Thanks!

  7. Jennifer, thanks for the sunspot warning, that’s kind of interesting. I think it all is rather interesting, in a freaky end-is-near kind of way: motivates a person, you know? I think pollinators adapted just like everything else. Opportunities exist so exploit them to your advantage, whether you need to have your pollen or seed strewn around or would like to be the, uh, strewer. A lot of stuff is wind-pollinated, actually, thus, my stuffy head at this time of year!

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