The Flower That Understands Its Pollinators – David Cloud


(Friday Church News Notes, August 25, 2017,, 866-295-4143)

The following is from, August 1, 2017:”What color is the scarlet gilia? Well, that depends on where and when it’s blooming. Despite its name, the scarlet gilia can be red, pink, and even white. Near sea level, the flowers remain red all season. This is because the flower is pollinated throughout the summer by hummingbirds who are drawn to the red flowers. At higher elevations, the hummingbirds leave as summer moves into August. As they leave, the plants change their red flowers to pink and, later, white. The higher-elevation plants change over to white flowers because they have a new pollinator. As the hummingbird population decreases, hawk moths take over. During this transition, the flower produces pink blossoms as it invites both of its pollinators. Once the hummingbirds are gone, the hawk moth takes over. The hawk moths pollinate at night, so they prefer white flowers, which are easier to see in the dark. Scientists were amazed by the fact that the color changes take place exactly when pollination shifts from hummingbird to moth. As one startled scientist put it, these plants cannot be considered passive in their environment. Who taught the scarlet gilia when and how to change the color of its flowers? Who taught it that hummingbirds will be attracted to red flowers? Or that hawk moths will be attracted to white flowers? The scarlet gilia may be clever, but only our all-wise Creator could have given this knowledge and ability to the plant.” Notes: D.D. Bennett,”Scarlet Gilia: Flowering Chameleon,” Science News, Feb. 1985, p. 69.

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