Some flowers have a remarkable and previously unknown ability to bounce back after injury, according to a new study.
Some injured flowers bent and twisted themselves back into the best possible position to ensure successful reproduction within 10-48 hours of being knocked over, for example, by falling branches or being walked on.
The reproduction of many flowers (and survival of populations) depends on the perfect alignment of their sexual organs and nectar tubes in order for a visiting insect to pollinate them.
But some are better at recovering their alignment after an injury than others.
Professor of Ecology and Evolution Scott Armbruster, at the University of Portsmouth, published his findings in New Phytologist.
He said: “Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. Making seeds and propagating is a flower’s main purpose, so injuries which threaten that pose a huge problem.”
The study found that bilaterally symmetrical flowers – those in which the left and right sides mirror each other, such as snapdragon, orchid, and sweet pea – can almost always restore their ‘correct’ orientation by moving individual flower stems or even moving the stalk that supports a cluster of flowers.