29 February 2012
Mother's Day is not far off, and usually, we think of human mothers, or animal mothers. But what if I told you there were common weeds that exhibited the same 'motherly' instincts? Plaintains, for example. They are GREAT Moms!
It doesn't take great intelligence to be a great mom. Chickens aren't the brightest creatures in the animal world, but the mother hen knows to protect her eggs and keep them warm. Many species of snakes also care for their young. So it's not unreasonable to take it a step further to apply that same 'motherly' design to weeds.
The plantain is a common North American weed, and when it blooms, the warmer it keeps its developing seeds, the more seeds its offspring will produce.
Researchers have found that cooler air temperatures cause the mother plant to produce a darker bloom cluster. The darker color absorbs more radiant energy from the sun, and this gives its offspring a boost in life even before they sprout.
The 'shooter plant', as it is commonly called in America's southeast, does something similar. It blooms for several months over the southern summer. The leaf-like bracts that sheathe each flower-cluster have a brown pigment.
Researchers observed the plants over several months and found that the bracts that formed in cooler April were darker than the bracts that formed in warmer June. The increased levels of brown pigment in April enabled the bracts to absorb more infrared light that helps to warm the flowers.
Just where did those plants learn the necessary physics, not to mention the genetics, to produce these motherly provisions? Of course, the answer is God's Intelligent Design from the very start.
It turns out that not only is God's eye on the sparrow, but also on the weeds in your yard!
Notes: Science News, Susan Milius