Thursday, March 17, 2016

Heed the weed

Canyon Ragweed, that is! This plant is not often on the top ten list of canyon favorites, but it's really quite interesting in terms of its reproductive strategy.

All photos by Matt Ball 2/29/2016

Most flowering plants have both male and female reproductive parts in the same flower (so called "perfect" flowers); others have male flowers and female flowers on entirely separate plants (e.g., Four-winged Salt Bush). Still others, like Canyon Ragweed (Ambrosia ambrosioides) have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.

Click photo for larger view

The male flowers produce all that lovely yellow pollen, of course; that's what you're allergic to. The male flowers in bloom look like mini-sunflowers. (And, wouldn't you know, this plant is in the sunflower family : -) The female flowers are those lime-greenish things located below the male flowers. With a bit of a wind assist, the pollen just falls right into the waiting female flower. The fruit (only the female can produce fruit) looks like a little cocklebur.
When you get a chance, take a closer look at these fancy plants!

Retroactively, currently, and henceforth: All photos on this blog are the property and copyright of the photographer. (Thanks, Gene, for the reminder to make this clear.)

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