The Reason for Flowers (2015) is about the origin, reproduction and effects of these amazing pieces of evolutionary artwork. These blinks explain how flowers have sex, why they’re so beautiful and why humans have become so infatuated with them.
When you look out your window, even in the city, you’re bound to see some of nature’s beauty, and among the most beautiful innovation of the natural world are those remarkable bursts of color we call flowers.
But despite their tremendous beauty, flowers have a major problem:
Flowering plants can’t survive on their own, and instead depend on pollinators for their procreation. These are generally flying insects like bees, beetles and butterflies – but to understand the relationship between these winged critters and plants, we first need to learn more about how flower sex works.
Plants that produce flowers are, for the most part, hermaphroditic, meaning that a single plant has both male and female reproductive parts. The pollen grains and ovules, the plant equivalents of sperm and eggs, are held in the plant’s flowers, essentially making flowers a plant’s sex organ.
But when one plant wants to have sex with another, they encounter an issue: they can’t move! And to make matters more difficult, plants, like humans and other animals, are best off mating with unrelated members of their species to increase their genetic diversity and vitality. So, how do you have sex with someone who’s far away when you can’t move an inch?
Through bees and butterflies! After all, not only can these insects move, they fly. This makes them perfect for the role of transporting pollen grains from one flower to another and impregnating other plants in the process.
But this all doesn’t happen by sheer coincidence; it’s partly a flower’s beauty that helps it coax pollinators into this deal, which is exactly what we’ll explore next.