At this time of the year, there are lots of flowers around. Many are brightly coloured and some give off a beautiful scent; others are less colourful or even a bit stinky!
My 6-year-old wants to know: Do flowers come in all the colours of the rainbow? And why are some of them smelly?
Not all plants make flowers but those that do use flowers as part of their lifecycle. Some flowers make pollen; others make tiny cells called ‘eggs’. In order to make a seed, from which a new plant can grow, pollen from one flower needs to combine with an egg from another. But plants can’t move about to combine their pollen and eggs, so flowers have a few tricks to get around this problem.
Pollen can be moved between flowers by the wind or by insects, animals or even by people! Plants that rely on insects to move their pollen make flowers that are brightly coloured or smelly so that the insects will be attracted to come and sit on the flowers. Pollen sticks to the insects in one flower and gets rubbed off the insects when they land on another flower.
Plants that use the wind to move pollen don’t usually bother making brightly coloured or smelly flowers because the wind doesn’t need to be attracted to them! The wind just blows the pollen around and eventually it lands on a different flower somewhere else.
Flowers really do come in all colours, though: from white through to brown and black! I have even found a website where you can search for flowers by colour.
How many different coloured flowers can you find near where you live? Have you seen any insects buzzing around them?