Pansy: a living palette

Pansy There are three colors on a flower (usually blue, yellow and maroon), so it is called pansy. Although it is widely used in landscaping today, it is actually not a native plant in China, and its hometown is in Europe. Long ago, pansy was invited to the nursery by humans because of its large flowers and peculiar colors.

Pansy and all kinds of viola we often see in spring belong to the violaceae of the violaceae family. In the north of the Yangtze River, the common violas are purple flowers and early open violas. When they bloom, it is spring day. When the flower festival enters its climax. It’s interesting to say that purple flowers and early violas often grow on road teeth, and when these violas are open, it’s like laying a lace on the road. However, these flowers come fast and go fast, which is far less loyal to pansy. Therefore, pansy, which can contribute flowers for a long time in a year, naturally becomes the gardener’s darling.

Although the size and color of the flowers are very different, the Viola plant has a common feature, that is, there is a special petal dragging a hollow “small tail”-this is a structure called the petal distance, inside It hides the nectar prepared by pollinators for pollinating insects.

Purple Ding

The question is coming, the nectar is hidden, how can an insect know where to start its mouth?

Beacons on the petals

If we look closely, we can see that the pansy petals have stripes like cat beards, so I prefer to call them cat face flowers. In fact, these cat beard stripes are very important for the succession of pansy-they are a guide to guide bees to find nectar.

This way of marking is called honey guide, which is a signal sign widely distributed in the plant kingdom. Stripes on the petals of various violas, spots on the petals of lilies, and yellow spots on irises are all honey guides, which guide animals to find nectar.

Now that the honey-conducting signal can effectively attract animals, some plants use their brains. Like Paphiopedilum sibiricum, there are spots on its flowers that resemble lily nectar, but there is no drop of nectar on Paphiopedilum sibiricum. The insects deceived by the fake honey guide not only get no trace of benefits, but also have to spread pollen for Paphiopedilum sibiricum, which has to marvel at the wisdom of plants.

How does the palette work

Since different colors can assume different functions, where do the different colors come from?

The color of flowers naturally comes from different pigments, usually including chlorophyll, anthocyanins and carotenoids, while the bright colors of flowers are mainly formed by anthocyanins and carotenoids. It should be noted here that anthocyanin is not a plant pigment, but a generic term for a class of pigments. Blue cornflower, delphinidin, mallow pigment, geranium, paeonia pigment and petunia are the six common anthocyanins. Although these pigments have the characteristics of changing color with the change of acid and alkali, they still have some differences in the same acid and alkali environment.

Researchers from Hainan University found through research that the main pigments in the pigmented area of ​​pansy petals are cyanidin and delphinidin, with cyanidin being the main component, accounting for 82.94%, and delphinidin accounting for 17.06% . In normal flower cells, cyanidin is red, and delphinidin is blue. With the combination of different pigments and special pH, a special piebald area is formed, which is different from the special color of blue.

The spots on the lily petals are also honey guides

Cat beard-like stripes are a guide to guide bees to find nectar

So why is there a difference in the distribution of pigments in different parts of the flower? Some two-color flowers due to special mutations provide us with excellent research materials.

Causes of two-color flowers

Choose flowers of different colors to arrange flower beds

In recent years, a friend often asked me a question. Why do some peach trees have red and white flowers on the adjacent branches at the same time, and even some petals are white on a peach flower, and some petals are pink? If the former case can be barely explained by grafting, then the latter case cannot be explained by “artificial grafting technique”.

In 2015, researchers from the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed the secret of two-color peach blossoms for us. Like most flowers, the anthocyanins in peach blossoms are also synthesized in the cytoplasm and then transported to the vacuole to accumulate, eventually showing a special color. The variegated peach blossom petals are due to a problem with the anthocyanin transport process. The researchers cloned the Riant, a gene controlling the variegation of peach blossoms, which encodes an anthocyanin transporter responsible for transporting anthocyanins into vacuoles.

Those blooming branches are due to a problem with the Riant gene. Two accidentally inserted two bases in the coding region of this gene caused a frameshift mutation, resulting in the loss of function of this gene and became a pseudogene (named riant) ). As a result, the anthocyanins synthesized in the cytoplasm cannot be transported and accumulated in the vacuole, and the petals are white.

Paphiopedilum sibiricum has spots on its flowers that resemble lily nectar

Interestingly, the study found that this mutant gene may also be reborn. When the pseudogene (riant gene) deletes 2 bases or inserts 1 base, the gene can restore its original function. Under natural conditions, the probability of peach blossoms carrying the riant gene is quite high, which is why we often see two-color peach blossoms.

Invisible flowers

Although the viola plants spend a lot of thought on flowers, they are both nectar and “painting” honey guides, but this does not guarantee that the viola has a 100% reproduction success rate. Under the influence of various weather factors, plants will always encounter the scarcity of insects and can not effectively spread pollen. Don’t worry, there are alternative plans for Viola.

It turned out that the viola plants also prepared ugly spare flowers. These flowers have no petals at all, and their pistils and stamens are tightly attached to each other to produce seeds through self-pollination. Although self-pollination can affect the genetic diversity of future generations, it is better than nothing. As an alternative, the practice of the Viola genus is highly admirable.

Peach flowers are mostly white and pink, but there are also variegated

Pansy of different colors

An ordinary little flower on the roadside hides many secrets of life, just like the colorful and messy colors of the world, it also hides the basic principles of the operation of everything, and all of this requires us to continue to explore. Life and future.

Further reading
Is the pigment of white flowers white?

White flowers become transparent “ice sculpture” after being soaked in rain

There are no pigments in white flowers. The reason why they appear white is because there are gaps between the flower cells. When the air is filled in between, the petals are white. This is the same as blowing up a pile of foam with transparent detergent, which also looks white. If we squeeze the petals and remove the gas, the petals will become transparent.

There is a net red plant called mountain lotus, and their white flowers will become transparent “ice sculpture” after being soaked by rain, that is, because the gaps in the petals are filled with rain.

Pansy dressing up

Ritual eating

Recently, a popular term is called ritual sense, and even ordinary meals should have a sense of ritual. In this regard, the easiest way is to replace the stainless steel rice bowl with a large white porcelain plate, and the ingredients can only occupy a very small space, much like the blank method in Chinese painting. It is best to embellish a lot of small flowers, the unique appearance of pansy is a good choice.

The petals of pansy have no special taste. Conversely, it does not conflict with the taste of the ingredients, plus it can be placed without any processing, which is a versatile choice.