Flower Color Beyond What We Can See


Despite their aesthetic appeal, flowers are not here to dazzle us. While they have enticed us to spread the offspring of many species around the globe, flowers have one purpose and one purpose only - sex. 

There are many different and even tricky ways flowers manage pollination. The most common and by far the most widely utilized is the use of insects. Though flowers look like they have done everything they can to attract pollinators, we can only see a narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum. What we see as visible light is only a mere fraction of what is really out there. 

Many insects see well into the ultraviolet range and this has caused some very interesting evolutionary adaptations in flowers to attract insects to their business parts. When viewed with UV cameras, many species of plants have seemed to have drawn maps and arrows to their anthers and stigmas. It is amazing to witness a species of say Potentilla with, to us, solid yellow petals in this manner. The patterns that appear are striking! There are far too many examples to go into detail on this subject so instead, here is a great website to show you some examples 


Photo Credit: Kevin Collins