Timely blooms

Published: Friday 30 June 2000

It is now known that weather and the supply of nutrients and pollinators have an impact on the way a flower blooms. Now Diana Pilson of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln says that even insect pests can influence the time a flower blooms. She studied the effect of five seed pests on wild sunflowers ( Helianthus annus ). She found that two early-season pests, the sunflower moth and the sunflower bud moth, inflicted the most damage. As a result, plants that flowered later produced most seeds. Other plants also probably flower at different times to avoid pests, she says ( Oecologia , Vol 122, p72).

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