Friday, July 20, 2012

Rose Pink in a Drought

The drought has caused shortened growth and aborted flowering attempts in many plants.  Rose Pink is an exception and has flowered on schedule and in greater than average numbers.

Even so, the Rose Pink blooms are short lived and the petals quickly fade as energy is put into seed production.

Rose Pink grows on some of the driest and most barren sites.  Grasses and other prairie flowers would normally obscure the clusters of pink blooms, but this year’s short growth leaves the Rose Pink out in the open.

Even though they are doing well, the Rose Pink plants are showing obvious signs of drought stress.  No matter how well developed the root system, it’s hard to find any moisture in the steep, rocky soil.

Despite the dryness, flower buds remain hydrated and the flowers open normally.  The one odd thing I’ve noticed is the absence of any odor.  Rose Pink flowers are very fragrant.  The scent of several dozen clustered plants can be detected at quite a distance.  I wonder how the absence of fragrance will affect the number of insect visitors aiding in pollination.  A Rose Pink flower releases its pollen prior to the stigma being ready to accept it.  This method increases the chances of pollen from another plant fertilizing the flower.  Self fertilization is possible, but that method is likely to produce fewer seeds. 

Rose Pink is a biennial plant, meaning that its life cycle is completed in two growing seasons.  During the first year, the plant puts down a deep root system and forms a rosette of leaves at the ground’s surface.  In year two it flowers, produces seed and dies.  Unlike perennial plants, the Rose Pink cannot abort flowering and wait for the next season.  If no seeds are produced, there are no plants for coming years.  Every bit of energy in this plant is focused on seed production.  I hope it’s successful.

Rose Pink population size fluctuates widely from year to year.  I’ve watched it survive a wide range of weather conditions and I’m sure this year will be no exception. 

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