Mysterious glowing object identified!

Ed, Wes and Paul all correctly identified Friday’s flower as a morning glory, probably an Ipomoea spp.  (They also made me feel rather soiled for pedaling flower porn.  Sheesh.)

What I find fascinating about these flowers is the unearthly glow at the center.  They’re pollinated by bumblebees among other species, and bees see best in the blue-violet-ultraviolet range.  If we were able to see this flower under UV light, you’d see those white areas become completely dark, creating a bullseye for bee approach.

Here’s why the white areas turn dark.  The pigments in a white flower are flavonoids, which absorb UV radiation and reflect visible light.  We don’t see into the UV range, so to us they look white (all that visible light bouncing back).  But bees and some other insects do see UV light, and these flavonoid pigments create patterns to help them find nectar and pollen.

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

2 thoughts on “Mysterious glowing object identified!”

  1. I’ve just discovered this blog researching Pseudolarix amabilis. I’m in heaven!

    This particular Morning Glory is ‘Star of Yelta’; an heirloom 🙂

    Off to continue reading!

  2. Welcome, Vera! So glad you found us. Enjoy, and pass the blog on to other interested gardeners!

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