Sunday, September 13, 2009

Obedient Plant

This is the bloom of Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana. I certainly don’t see obedience when I look at this flower. I see motion and I see menace in the visage of some monstrous sea creature. The mouth is open and I have only seconds before I’m in that cavernous maw on my way to the gullet.

What do you think? Is the wasp going to the flowers or are the flowers going after the wasp. Sometimes I suffer from an overactive imagination. I hope there’s no psychiatrist reading this thinking, “Hmm. He sees monsters in the flowers. Interesting.” Well, I do find the flowers attractive and interesting. The shape is intended to draw in pollinators. The wasp will get a nectar treat, but judging by the flower structure, I believe a larger visitor is necessary for effective pollination. It looks like a big hairy back brushing on the top lip would really get that pollen moving.

The lance shaped leaves are quite stout and make the plant recognizable well before the flowers appear. Another name for this plant is False Dragonhead. I wonder if someone else saw reptilian menace in these flowers and thought of the leaf as the lance that slew the dragon.

The flowers are considered obedient because the base of the flower stem acts as a swivel that allows you to move the flowers into various positions. After a heavy rain, most flowers are left hanging down. Some people have speculated that the swivel action allows the flowers to reposition so rain water doesn’t wash nectar or pollen from inside. Now we see their left side.

Now their right. These flowers can grow in some very dry areas, but usually on sites that offer a little shade during the day. They are fairly common in the prairies and prairie edges.

1 comment:

  1. Haha...that first photo looks a lot like a sea monster to me too! (Interesting info...)