Monday, December 5, 2011

They worship the Sun God

They know that it gives life

Every morning they wait anxious the dawn, hungry of light. Like satellite dishes especially designed to catch the maximum of solar rays, the plants direct their the leaves and flowers towards their God sun, the one that gives the life them and they follow to him in his movement until the dusk, always watching it of face.

 Perhaps the best example would be a field of sunflowers. The beauty of these plants in the heat of flowering is extraordinary. All the flowers watch at their God with veneration, humility, with respect, slightly inclined, but without losing it of view a little while nor. Their stems twist to follow it since it is shown in the horizon by the east, until it is also put in the horizon by the west. The leaves are prepared in a plane slightly inclined of north to the south and turn to the same rate that the flowers, so that they are able to catch solar rays with an efficiency impossible to surpass. 

You will ask yourselves why the flowers have as much avidity by the sun if they do not realise the photosynthesis. You have the answer in this inflorescence of sunflower. At the left is the reason for its exaggerated heliophilia, a pollenizer bee sucking the nectar of the just open flowers and pollinating them with the pollen stuck in its body coming from other flowers. The bees and the other insects that feed themselves on nectar have a very special vision, are able to see the colors, but in a chromatic phantom different from ours. They can perceive with clarity the ultraviolet colors, invisible to our eyes. The plants know it and they direct the flowers towards the light of the sun so that the insects can see them with clearness. Many of them have special marks in their petals, that we cannot see, to indicate to the pollenizers the exact place to them where it is the nectar. (I recommend to extend the photos with a double click).

The flowers of the Merendera filifolia take the form of small satellite dishes oriented towards the sun. Unlike us the bees do not see their gorgeous pink color, but an ultraviolet color that is clarified from the end of the petals towards the center of the flower, where they are stamens and pistil with the nectar like reclamation or reward.

 The endemic violet to Corsica, Viola corsica, has flowers with a very intelligent design whose purpose is not indeed the aesthetic one, but to attract the insects towards the center of the flower. For it has drawn lines that direct to the pollenizers towards the nectar. The insects specialized in pollinate the Viola corsica know to recognize of an instinctive way these lines and these gradients of color. They take engraving to it in its genome. It is a perfect symbiosis, nectar in exchange for pollen.

This Crocus cambessedesii, endemic to the Balearic Islands, grows in the crack of a calcareous rock oriented towards the west closely of the sea. In order to obtain that the insects see its unique flower it has had to spend much energy to draw for the rock that covers solar rays and instead of to grow turgid upwards it has been forced to downwards grow and later to rotate towards the southwest to manage that the last solar rays of the dusk illuminate their petals, being thus obtained to be seen by the insects.

I never had seen a Fuchsia growing wild, always in flowerpot. Three years ago I enjoyed an unforgettable spectacle. It found me in the Island of Faial of the Azores Archipelago. One hour ago little that had left the sun and the plants they were covered by the dew of the horizontal rain that had been condensed on its leaves during the dawn. The drops of water shone as small diamonds illuminated by rays of the dawn. I was in the skirt of Monte Carneiro looking for the mythical endemic fern Asplenium azoricum. I was scanning with the view rocks oriented towards the north that bordered a way. Magician was a silence almost and suddenly I listened far the motor of a car that approached and gave average return to see it. Before my eyes, on the wall across of the way, it appeared a gorgeous spectacle. Highest fuchsias with their branches loaded of flowers and oriented towards the sun of the dawn shone by the drops of the dew and they stood out on the farming fields. Nor in the most taken care gardens I could have seen so beautiful fuchsias. I knew immediately that one was the feral Fuchsia magellanica from South America, that in the Azores lives very happy and gets to reach near two meters of height. 

It is not necessary to ask which is its God, truth?. This Tragopogon prorrifolius subsp. australis grows on the volcanic gravel of the Port of Izaña in the Island of Tenerife to 2300 msnm. This flower seen close by has a design of a great chromatic beauty and a so sophisticated structure that it seems to be designed specifically to please to the God that gives the life it.

The white poppy of California, of scientific name Romneya coulteri, is another worshipper of the sun. Its pearl-shaped whiteness has a purity that it impresses. Of what color they will see the bees it?

This tiny labiatae of crawling habit, Teucrium chamaedrys subsp. pinnatifidum, directs its gorgeous flowers towards the sun of the noon. It grows in a heather bush located in the skirt of a mountain of the Serra de Tramuntana of Majorca.

In the same heather bush can see some examples of albino flowers, always aimed toward the sunlight.

The flowers of the rockrose of laudanum, Cistus ladanifer, have a peculiar very dark red spot in the petals, which dye of yellow between the spot and the center of the flower to direct to the pollenizers towards their showy reproductive organs. So that the insects can see these spots the flower must be oriented towards the light. The beauty of its design is insurmountable.

The flowers of guava of Brazil, Feijoa sellowiana, upwards have stamens of an alive red color blood and pink petals with the edge revolute letting see their white inferior part. When it leaves the sun these flowers are an irresistible reclamation for the bees.

The flowers of Malfurada, Hypericum grandifolium, a Macaronesian endemism, have an alive golden color that stands out on the intense green of the leaves. The plant of the photo in the heat of grows in the forest of laurisilva of the Sendero largo del Pijaral in Rural Park of Anaga in Tenerife Island. The numerous yellow flowers seem small stars shining in the firmament.

 Impressive general view of the extraordinary Botanical Garden of Funchal of Madeira Island. Intelligently it is located in the skirt of a volcanic mountain oriented towards the south. This way the plants receive all the sun of the noon, which, along with the high humidity of this island, is the respondible of the exuberance of the vegetation of the garden. In first plane the gorgeous flower of a Strelitzia reginae can be seen with its peculiar design in rooster crest. Extending the image it is appraised as the majority of plants is slightly inclined towards the sun, detail that is appraised better in the palm of the bottom.

The ferns do not have flowers, but some also present showy heliophilia, like this vigorous allotetraploid hybrid endemic to Majorca, Asplenium X tubalense. In order to catch the maximum of solar energy it extends its long fronds towards the light.

Also the arboreal ferns adore to the God sun. In the image we see several feral Cyathea cooperi in clear of a forest of cryptomerias of the Caldeira do Faial that is an enormous volcanic crater located in center of the Azorian island of the same name. Its design in the form of satellite dish allows them to catch the maximum of solar rays.

Some plants depend as much on ultraviolet rays that they only open the flowers if shines the sun. The cloudy days maintain closed the petals and if it persists bad weather they patiently hope during days to that it improves. They know that without ultraviolet rays of the sun affecting the petals of their flowers their pollenizers will not see them. These plants also usually close the flowers at night and they open them again in the morning. It is a very intelligent way to assure the pollination, since their pollenizers are diurnal and it does not have any sense to maintain the flowers open during the night.

 The Gazania splendens is a clear example. Every morning it open its flowers watching at the sun with its special drawings in the petals to say to the bees where they can find some sips of rich nectar. We see them with their gorgeous color fire, but the bees are blind for the red color and they see them in different ultraviolet tonalities. To the dusk their petals are closed and they become open with first rays of the dawn. It knows that at night their pollenizers will not see their flowers and in addition it is very sensible to the cold, closing its petals protects the reproductive organs of a possible nocturnal frost. 

The tiny Romulea assumptionis, endemic to the Balearic Islands, is another extreme example of heliophilia. The pollination of its unique flower depends as much on the diurnal insects that it only open the petals if their sensors of light detect sufficient ultraviolet rays incising over it. Throughout the year is accumulating nutrients and energy in its small underground bulb with the unique purpose of producing a single flower and of assuring therefore the survival the species. It cannot squander energy uselessly nor it can put in danger to his descendants. Usually it grows in the clear ones of Mediterranean Garriga with its small flower oriented towards the noon. If near it some pines, olive trees or oaks grow doing shade to it during the morning, its flower patiently hopes solar rays of the noon for open its petals. The cloudy days its flower remains closed until it improves the time. If it is able to be fertilized the first day, in the evening it is closed and no longer it returns open. On the contrary one it open several followed days until securing its objective.

These two gorgeous flowers of Trichocereus terscheskii intelligently are located on the stem to receive the maximum of direct solar light during the central hours of the day, that is to say, are directed towards south-east, South, the southwestern one. In the image we see several bees flying towards the central zone of the flowers, where are at heart the reproductive organs of the flower with the nectar. The flowers of this cactus dismiss a delicious aroma that it attracts the bees that look for with the view the source of the scent. They are open in the morning and they are closed to the dusk during several followed days. The nocturne cold of the desert where they grow could damage its delicate reproductive organs and it would not serve for anything all the effort as the plant to assure the following generation.

The strategies of the plants to survive and to perpetuate their species are infinite. Today I have spoken you about the worshippers of the God Sun, but there are also worshippers to the goddess Moon. Their flowers open when putting the sun and they are closed with first rays of the dawn. Of them  I will speak you in another article.

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