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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A banner year

A few nights ago I said I'd write more about Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor).  As you might guess from the common name, this is the smallest of the six species of lupines found on Bodega Head.

The flowers are generally blue and white, although once pollinated, the white portion (called a banner) turns magenta (see the lower whorl of flowers below).

This is an interesting "trick."  By keeping the petals intact even after fertilization, the plant maintains a large inflorescence which helps to attract pollinators (e.g., bees) from a distance.  But when the pollinator is close, the two colors send different signals to the pollinator = a magenta banner basically means "don't bother" while a white banner means "this way!"

This appears to be a very good year for Miniature Lupine (you might say it's having a banner year!).  As you could probably tell from the post on 7 April, I became intrigued by the patterns created by the petals when viewed from above.  Here are two more examples.

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