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The Buzz on Flowers

May 05, 2019

Flowers make a perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Here’s the buzz on how flowers came to be.

Early plants had no flowers. They developed as insects used plants and plants used insects.

Like all living things, plants reproduce to ensure future generations. Since they can’t move from place to place, they need a way to transfer pollen from one plant to another. Wind is a major pollinator but acts randomly. However, insects pollinate flowers with precision.

The bright colors and strong fragrances of flowers attract insects. Once lured to the flowers, insects discover pollen and nectar. Bees, butterflies, and other insects gather pollen and nectar to feed themselves and their young. As insects move from plant to plant, they transfer pollen from one flower to the next and a new generation begins.

"Bees started co-evolving with flowers," says Dr. Gerardo Camilo. The St. Louis University Biology Professor and his students have been surveying bees in the St. Louis area. You can see their work in action in the video below. "Bees are the only group that are true, intentional pollinators," says Camilo. "Butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, beetles, and others are strictly accidental pollinators. Bees are intentional pollinators."

Over time, flowers have developed colors, smells, and shapes that successfully entice insects. At the same time, insects have developed features and behaviors that make them more effective pollinators. The changes benefit plants by encouraging pollination. They benefit insects by making it easier for them to get food.

Watch Missouri native wildflowers grow before your eyes in the time-lapse video below.

Why Grow Native

  • Native wildflowers are adapted to our climate and soils.
  • They create beauty and interest with a progression of flowers and fruits.
  • They furnish food and cover for butterflies, birds and other wildlife.
  • The require little to no irrigation and seldom need fertilizer or pesticides.
  • Many wildlife species prefer native plants for habitat and depend on them for survival.

Discover more about landscaping for plants in this colorful brochure.


sweet bee on purple milkweed
Photo by Susan Farrington, MDC

Nature's Bouquet - Happy Mother's Day

See native flowers grow up in this time-lapse video
See native flowers grow up in this time-lapse video

BEES in the HOOD

Bees in the St. Louis Hood thrive on diversity
Bees in the St. Louis Hood thrive on diversity

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