Saturday, October 5, 2013

365 Days of Floral Education - Days 331- 335

As part of our 125th Anniversary celebration at Stein Your Florist Co. we are sharing a year of floral education, November 1, 2012 thru October 31, 2013. Each day we will post something new on our Facebook page to share our knowledge of our favorite things, flowers and plants and we'll be updating our blog every 5 days or so. No need for pencils and notebooks, just sharing some simple lessons in floristry.

Day 331 - Interaction between insects and flowering plants shaped the development of both groups, a process called coevolution. In time flowers evolved arresting colors, alluring fragrances, and special petals that provide landing pads for their insect pollinators. Uppermost in the benefits package for insects is nectar, a nutritious fluid flowers provide as a type of trading commodity in exchange for pollen dispersal. The ancestors of bees, butterflies, and wasps grew dependent on nectar, and in so doing became agents of pollen transport, inadvertently carrying off grains hitched to tiny hairs on their bodies. These insects could pick up and deliver pollen with each visit to new flowers, raising the chances of fertilization.

Day 332 - Insects weren't the only obliging species to help transport flowering plants to every corner of the Earth. Dinosaurs, the greatest movers and shakers the world has ever known, bulldozed through ancient forests, unwittingly clearing new ground for angiosperms. They also sowed seeds across the land by way of their digestive tracts.

Day 333 - Dinosaurs disappeared suddenly about 65 million years ago, and another group of animals took their place—the mammals, which greatly profited from the diversity of angiosperm fruits, including grains, nuts, and many vegetables. Flowering plants, in turn, reaped the benefits of seed dispersal by mammals. "It was two kingdoms making a handshake," says David Dilcher, a paleobotanist with the Florida Museum of Natural History. "I'll feed you, and you take my genetic material some distance away."

Day 334 – As humans evolved, they and the plant kingdom continued to evolve together, through agriculture, angiosperms met our need for sustenance. We in turn have taken certain species like corn and rice and given them unprecedented success, cultivating them in vast fields, pollinating them deliberately, consuming them with gusto. Virtually every nonmeat food we eat starts as a flowering plant, while the meats, milk, and eggs we consume come from livestock fattened on grains—flowering plants. Even the cotton we wear is an angiosperm. Aesthetically, too, angiosperms sustain and enrich our lives. We've come to value them for their beauty alone, their scents, their companionship in a vase or a pot. Some flowers speak an ancient language where words fall short. For these more dazzling players—the orchids, the roses, the lilies—the world grows smaller, crisscrossed every day by jet-setting flowers in the cargo holds of commercial transport planes.

Day 335 – Bittersweet is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum. It is considered an invasive problem weed in North America, but is available in the autumn as cut branches and used by florists in fall floral designs and wreaths. They have a small bi-colour orange skin with red berries that dry on the branch, maintaining the same appearance as when fresh.

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