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Author Topic: How do flowers become so colourful ?  (Read 9064 times)

Offline neilep

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« on: 09/02/2006 20:36:45 »
Hmmm...I can see that this is could be one of those ' which came first ' questions but I understand that flowers have colours (as well as pollen and aroma etc) to attract insects and other flying things to aid pollination...

so how did flowers decide that they better make themselves look attractive ?...do you think that because flowers look vivid in all their colour lovliness that it's an indication that the majority of insects and humming birds etc can all see in colour then ?

Oh..for the Americans...colour=color :D

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!


 

Offline harryneild

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Re: How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #1 on: 09/02/2006 22:46:09 »
Most insects have compound eyes (e.g. the cockroach) which means that they can see in actually very good colour vision. The spectrum of light that they see however consists of slightly shorter wavelengths, they find it hard to see red, but have the ability to see ultra-violet.

Most flowers that are in areas where insects are around are usually yellow to deep purple or white. This is because they want to attract insects.
The majority of flowers that are in areas where birds are common are red because they are not attractive to bees etc which steel the pollen, but are attracted to birds which will spread the pollen much more efficiently
 

Offline elegantlywasted

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Re: How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #2 on: 10/02/2006 02:39:58 »
its one of those wonderful reproduction methods... insects see the lovely colours, land, then distrubte the seed... the more tasty looking the flower, the more attractive to reproduce

but it doesnt explain ugly dandelions (cursed wind, blowing seeds around)
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #3 on: 11/02/2006 15:33:39 »
Yeah the flower didn't choose to become more colourful, just the slightly more colourful ones attracted more insects so were better pollenated, so had more children. This meant that there were slightly more of the slightly more colourful plants about. Repeat a few million times and you get pretty (to insects and as a byproduct us) flowers.
 

Offline rosy

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Re: How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #4 on: 12/02/2006 18:27:53 »
Dandelions are insect polinated though... and definitely have UV-reflecting petals, so probably look good to the appropriate pollinator. It's only after they've been pollinated that the seeds are distributed by the wind..
 

Offline DiscoKing

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #5 on: 19/05/2011 14:43:21 »
Hi... First post...

What I'm looking to find out is how/why flowers started to be...
I mean, flowers are bright & colourful to help attract things to it for pollenation...

How do plants know what colour is?
How do they know what smell is (for the flowers which give off the smell of a female bee...
also, how do they know what a bee looks like??)...

There are fish & insects etc that live in caves, in total darkness, & therefore have no colouring whatsoever. & are blind.

Plants are naturally blind, but flowering plants are brightly coloured & to me, that makes no sense.
I know the green is for photosynthesis... but what about all the reds, yellows & violets? lol.
 

Offline BenV

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #6 on: 19/05/2011 15:46:58 »
Plants don't need to "know" any of this.  The colours are simply chemistry, and those with brighter colours (as a result of random mutation, or recombination etc) attracted more pollenators, and therefore spread their pollen more widely.  Over many generations, this means the population will become more colourful.  If patterns happen (again, it's just chemistry), then again we have a selection pressure for/against patterning etc.  Same goes for smell.

It's just how natural selection works - it doesn't need any knowledge, forethought or planning!

 

Offline DiscoKing

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #7 on: 20/05/2011 00:01:44 »
You're telling me that this plant:

newbielink:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Orchid [nonactive]

Has randomly made the colours & smell of a bee...
A female bee?

I can understand how what you're saying can be true,
But it also seems like a massive farce as well...

I mean the first flowering plant to evolve must have thought that the colouring would have an effect...
I have always been told that in nature everything happens for a reason... & as Flowers can't see or smell;
They couldn't have changed colour for a reason, as they don't know what colour is!

Argh my mind!
 

Offline CliffordK

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #8 on: 20/05/2011 00:15:55 »
While a flower can't see.

It gets a selective advantage the more times its target pollinator visits it, thus producing the colors, smells, and sugars that attract bees.

I have an Azalea hedge, I think.  The bumblebees are going crazy over it, but hardly any honeybees. 
The honeybees, however, seem to be going after the apple and fruit trees.
 

Offline imatfaal

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #9 on: 20/05/2011 00:28:58 »
Sorry DiscoK
Not everything happens for a reason.  The change is random - and that lucky individual might outbreed its peers, and if the change is passed on its progeny outbreeds their peers.  Every living thing competes for resources and a tiny little advantage (like a very small resemblance to the female mate of a really good pollinator which gets your pollen out and about first) will make a real difference.  After many generations every flower looks a little like the female bee and then one individual has a random mutation that makes it look just a bit more like the female bee and it starts to outbreed the old boring sort and the process continues.  This is happening all the time - with a myriad of different variations over untold generations.

It's the enormous time scale and number of generations that we humans cannot get our heads around.

Newtons Law, Einstein's theories, Quantum Mechanics, etc are marvellous, complex, unimaginable sometimes yet truly wonderful to comprehend - but evolution knocks them into a cocked hat.  So simple and yet explains so much
 

Offline CliffordK

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #10 on: 20/05/2011 00:59:01 »
You're telling me that this plant:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Orchid

Has randomly made the colours & smell of a bee...
A female bee?

From Wikipedia:
Bees in the past have promoted the evolution of bee orchids. Male bees, over many generations of cumulative orchid evolution, have built up the bee-like shape through trying to copulate with flowers, and hence carrying pollen.

However.
There are 3 types of honeybees.
Queen Bee (stays in the hive, lays eggs)
Drones (males, primary purpose is to fertilize the eggs).
Worker Bees.  (sterile females.  Their job is everything else including collecting nectar).

So, the big question is whether it is the sterile females that are pollinating the plant which would seem to be contrary to the Wikipedia statement?

I guess it didn't specify the type of bee.
 

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How do flowers become so colourful ?
« Reply #10 on: 20/05/2011 00:59:01 »

 

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