Friday, October 18, 2013

Lure a Datura

Photo by Matt Ball 10/4/2013

Bumper crop of Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) in the area above the dam formerly-occupied-by-the-nasty-invasive Giant Reed. These great photos give me the opportunity to do a plant rant! You've been lured!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/7/2013

With his X-ray vision, Marty captured the innards of the datura flower. The one long part (sticking out at the top) is a female part; the shorter ones (there are actually 5 in these flowers, one must be hiding) are male parts. In flowering plants, the male parts produce the pollen; the female 'bears' the fruit. [Remember, a fruit is what contains/holds/encapsulates the seed(s).]

Photos by Mark, hand by Jean Hengesbaugh 10/10/2013

Note: You'll want to avoid handling this plant! Touching it can cause an allergic reaction on your skin. As with all living things, reactions aren't the same across species. You may be fine...or not.
We'll assume that the flower Jean is showing has been pollinated (think: fertilized). If it hasn't been pollinated, it won't develop a fruit, i.e., it won't pass on its genetic info to the next generation via the seed (think: baby plant).

Above you see the developing fruit (light green and spiky), along with the remains of the flower. Clearly, this flower got the job done! This flower attracted a pollinator who transferred pollen to the female part. Hooray!

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 10/10/2013

In the foreground, a fruit in a later stage of development. In the upper left, a fruit that's a bit farther along. These fruits are 'ripe' when they look dry and brown. DO NOT EAT any part of this plant - but especially the seeds inside this spiky ball. The seeds are extremely toxic.

Know all of this already? Great! Please spread the word or spread this intro to plant biology. Click on the links on the left to move through the explanations. (Remember, I didn't make it; I'm just linking to it.)

Thanks to the photographers for this plant rant!

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