Monday, July 11, 2011

ruffled white trumpet

ruffled white trumpet
blossoms beckon bees by day,
entice moths by night

In spring, the big round buds of the catawba burst open to reveal wadded white blossoms inside. Magically, they unfold like tissue paper origami into ruffled orchidlike blooms. By early summer, dozens of blossoms hang from each pendulous panicle. Then the catawba gets down to the business of procreation. Working round the clock, the flowers turn on double charms to attract pollinators. By day, bees are drawn by sight to the golden yellow strips and dotted magenta lines on the "landing pad" of the flower leading to the nectar in the center. Bees prefer the colors red and yellow, but they have little sense of smell. So why does the catawba exude such an intoxicating fragrance? By night, moths flock to the intensely sweet scent and thus continue the pollination process. When the flowers finally fall, they carpet the grass so thickly it looks like snow in summer. Not all of the profusion of blossoms get pollinated, but the ones that do produce extravagantly long slender green seedpods that dangle down between the huge heart-shaped leaves.

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