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Old 05-02-2018, 09:57 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA
Default Color variation in Spring Beauties.

Mr I love Ants was recently asking about color differences in spring beauty blooms. I remembered reading about the unusual circumstances at work in this instance but didn't remember detail. Being the time of year for spring beauty to be noticed it was with pleasure I read "In Defense Of Plants " tackling this subject. A good explanation and links to more info...

Colorful Claytonia ? In Defense of Plants

In a 2 year study, Frey has made some amazing discoveries. First, he made sure that Claytonia flower color is not a result of soil pH or anything like that by growing a ton of them in different conditions. He found that flower color is indeed genetic and is controlled by a couple different compounds. Crimson coloring comes from a compound called "cyanidin" and white colors comes from two flavonols, "guercetin" and "kaempferol". Frey then used spectrometry to analyze flower colors throughout the population and found 4 distinct color morphs ranging from all white to mostly crimson.

As it turns out, the flavonol compounds have pleiotropic effects in Claytonia. While they do produce white pigments, they also help defend the plants against herbivory and pathogens. Frey used a multitude of different analytical methods to assess overall fitness of each color morph and his results are jaw-droppingly cool to say the least.
Fitness of Claytonia was measured as total fruit production and total seed set. Because Claytonia needs a pollinator to visit the plant in order to produce fruit and set seed, reproduction is directly linked to pollinator preference. His research found that pollinators, which for Claytonia are solitary bees, do, in fact, prefer crimson color morphs. This helps to explain the greater number of crimson colored flowers in any given area because the more pollinator visits, the higher overall fitness for that plant. What it does not explain though, is why white morphs exist in the population at all.
Herbivory has serious consequences for Claytonia and plants that receive high levels of herbivore damage are far more likely to die. Because of this, white morphs, even with significantly less reproductive fitness, are able to maintain themselves in any given population. Wow!But wait! It gets cooler.... In areas where other white flowering plants like Stellaria pubera abound, white Claytonia morphs are even more rare. Why is this exactly? Well,
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:56 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Michigan

I wonder if that holds true for the hepaticas as I notice quite the variable in their coloration up in the UP.
Not finding any info on that line of thought about the hepaticas BUT..... Noticed

The legume Desmodium setigerum Changes not only it's color but ALSO changes its SHAPE!

Single visits by bees mechanically depress the keel and expose stigma and anthers (termed “tripping”); visits also initiate a rapid color change from lilac to white and turquoise and a slower morphological change, the upper petal folding downwards over the reproductive parts.

But flowers receiving insufficient pollen can partially reopen, re-exposing the stigma, with a further color change to deeper turquoise and/or lilac. Thus, most flowers achieve pollination from one bee visit, but those with inadequate pollen receipt can reverse their signals, earning a “second chance” by eliciting attention from other potential pollinators.
More info and Photos inclusive in the following link https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...60982209009798
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:55 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey

Thankyou for the information. I've always wondered what caused the color to vary. Years ago I started with 6 corms and now they've spread to form quite a sizable patch. I've had to start transplanting them elsewhere because they're coming up on the paths. Mine have always hued more toward the white end of things with faint pink vanes, but a few had dark pink coloration to them which isn't as showy as I was hoping for.

My original design idea was to plant a bunch under my Eastern Redbud hoping they would be just as pink or close to it. But with them being so pail the effect isn't what I was going for.

I've found a hot pink form of Phlox stolonifera though that's going to be perfect when it spreads out a bit.
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beauties, color, spring, variation

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