Sunday, March 29, 2009
This Berry Has Two Mothers
Rained all day today, temp close to 50, washing away the winter's grime, softening what's left of the snow. It's amazing how much remains in the woods, even after several days of summery weather. I walked the entire way around Mud Pond yesterday, and found myself knee-deep in snow in a shaded gully. And of course, I was wearing sneakers, not boots. Brrr!
In a sunnier spot, I found this patch of partridge berry, the berries a bit shriveled from a winter under the snow, but the leaves as fresh and green as they were last fall. Take a close look at that berry's little red owl face: see what looks like two eyes? This here is one berry with two blossom ends -- you might say it had two mothers.
And here they are, in bloom last June. Tiny white waxy twin trumpets with furry tops. These are females (pistil packin' mamas) just waiting for pollen from stamen-equipped male blossoms nearby. The girls' gotta have it, and when they get it, both twins put all they've got into one ovary -- the two flowers work together to make one berry. One berry with two blossom ends. Are there any other fruits that form this way? Not that I know of.
To complete the family portrait, here's a photo of the Daddy, the staminate blooms.
Actually, each flower contains both sexes: stamens and pistils. In one form the pistils protrude, in another form, the stamens do. This prevents self-fertilization. In each case, both flowers of the twin trumpet arrangement must be fertilized to produce the berry. Complications, complications! But what a cute little baby!