Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/339

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

brownish flowers, some of which smell like carrion, are attractive to flies, as the Arum and Aristolochia; while the dull purplish flowers of the Scrophularia are specially attractive to wasps.

5. Some flowers have neither scent nor nectar, and yet attract insects by sham nectaries! In the herb-paris (Paris quadrifolia) the ovary glistens as if moist, and flies alight on it and carry away pollen to another flower; while in grass of parnassus (Parnassia palustris) there are a number of small stalked yellow balls near the base of the flower, which look like drops of honey but are really dry. In this case there is a little nectar lower down, but the special attraction is a sham; and as there are fresh broods of insects every year, it takes time for them to learn by experience, and thus enough are always deceived to effect cross-fertilisation.[1] This is analogous to the case of the young birds, which have to learn by experience the insects that are inedible, as explained at page 253.

6. Many flowers change their colour as soon as fertilised; and this is beneficial, as it enables bees to avoid wasting time in visiting those blossoms which have been already fertilised and their nectar exhausted. The common lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), is at first red, but later turns blue; and H. Müller observed bees visiting many red flowers in succession, but neglecting the blue. In South Brazil there is a species of Lantana, whose flowers are yellow the first day, orange the second, and purple the third; and Dr. Fritz Müller observed that many butterflies visited the yellow flowers only, some both the yellow and the orange flowers, but none the purple.

7. Many flowers have markings which serve as guides to insects; in some cases a bright central eye, as in the borage and forget-me-not; or lines or spots converging to the centre, as in geraniums, pinks, and many others. This enables insects to go quickly and directly to the opening of the flower, and is equally important in aiding them to obtain a better supply of food, and to fertilise a larger number of flowers.

8. Flowers have been specially adapted to the kinds of

  1. Müller's Fertilisation of Flowers, p. 248.