Designed with Hummers in Mind

cardinal flower1

Cardinal flower, the reddest red flower there ever was, is lighting up wetlands these days. I caught sight of this population that, along with monkey flower, meadow beauty, thoroughwort, and various sedges, is filling the spillway at Lake Cheston.

cardinal flower2

The flower is the quintessential design for pollination by hummingbirds. First, those little hummers, like humans, really notice the color red. Next, the nectar, which is located at the base of the flower, is best accessed by long-tongued hummingbirds or extra long-proboscises insects. Third — and this is ingenious — the pollen is located high above the rest of the flower, in the perfect location for bopping pollinators on the forehead as they forage for nectar. The pollen is carried to other cardinal flowers and handily deposited on the stigma, which is located in the same spot.

Although the wind was up, butterflies were all over these plants when I was trying to take pictures. They, too, are attracted to the color red. Breezes make navigation tough for those little insects, but they were determined to go after those cardinal flowers!


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