One of the wildflowers that can be seen growing in Iowa is called spiderwort.  Actually, we have three species in Iowa.  The most common one is Ohio spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis, and it can often be found growing in ditches.

Spiderwort blooms with spectacular large blue flowers that disappear by mid-morning on warm days.  On rainy days the blooms can last all day.  The petals on spiderwort do not just fall off, but they dissolve—you can see the watery mass of petals below the flowers on this photograph.

Why do the petals dissolve?  Is the plant able to capture some of the energy from making the petals by dissolving them?  Why does such a spectacular flower last only a short time?  The flower does not bloom at a time when butterflies are active.  Moth flowers have a tendency to be white, not deep blue.  Are the pollinators bees or flies, or some other insect?  The flower looks fairly simple, so one would assume that it could be pollinated by a number of insects, but they would have to be active in the early morning when there is dew on the ground.  I have seen mostly flies on the flower.

What forces select for a large, spectacular flower like this?  Presumably the spiderwort flower requires a lot of energy to produce.

One of the things about nature is that for every answer you come up with, there are a dozen questions.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in Biological diversity, plants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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