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    really good post. thanks...
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Moosa Creek Blog

What flowers are Saying!

Creekside Chat

 Flowering plants want to be pollinated. Native plants have lived for eons with the same native insects, and have adjusted their appearances to attract the best pollinators. Understanding what plants are saying with their flowers helps us to plant to attract specific types of animals and insects.

Remember that all native insects belong here and have a very specific function in our ecosystem. Many of these functions we are just learning about, but to plant for the broadest range of insects is important ecologically.

Birds, particularly hummingbirds, do not have a keen sense of smell but have excellent vision. The flowers they visit are not highly fragrant, are colored bright yellow or red, and have a long, sturdy flower cluster. Hummers use up energy quickly, so flowers that want to be pollinated by them will hold a lot of nectar, usually in tubular form, and will recharge their nectar quickly. California Fuchsias have long threads with pollen grains on the end that adhere to the short stiff feathers at the base of the bird’s bill.

Moth-pollinated plants usually open at dusk, and as they need to stand out brightly in moon light and starlight, are white or lightly colored. They are also very fragrant as moths have a good sense of smell. Every yucca plant has an independent relationship with a specific moth, which also depend upon that yucca for survival. They, like agaves, attract nectar-eating bats as well. Beetles like fruity, yeasty, and strongly- fragranced flowers that produce pollen rather than nectar, such as Spice Bush.

Butterflies can see light in the UV spectrum and lots of the flowers that attract butterflies have areas that reflect UV light to guide the butterfly to the nectar. Butterflies are attracted mainly to bright blue, orange and yellow flowers, and sometimes red. Butterflies are also lured to a flower by its fragrance. They use their feet to taste and need to land to feed. The flowers that often attract butterflies have larger landing pads near the source of nectar. The nectar of these flowers is at the base where the long tongues of butterflies can reach. Any sage, such as the very fragrant Alpine Sage, or Golden Current are among many natives that will attract butterflies. Many of these flowers will also attract bees which also like bright, fragrant flowers. However, if you don’t want honeybees in your yard, then plant red flowering plants such as Rosy Desert Beardtongue; red appears black to bees.

Explore the fragrant and colorful flower shapes of native plants using Moosa Creek’s search feature on their website.

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