In Madison, we are starting to see flowers bloom and trees bud. Lynne and I are enjoying seeing them on our neighborhood walks and today I got to thinking about the question: how do flowers bloom exactly?
We don’t really get to see the flower’s bloom in motion, only snapshots of its progress. But it’s pretty remarkable when you think about all the varieties of flowers out there and how different they each look when fully bloomed.
Some flowers and their petals open up because of a difference in growth rate of the cells in the petals. The edges elongate faster than the center which creates strain on the petal and can cause it to go from curving inward to curving outward.
Other flowers open up more than once and this opening and closing is influenced by temperature and sunlight. One example of the mechanism is the warming of water molecules within the petal itself. This warming of the liquid creates pressure inside the cells at the base of the petal (called turgor pressure). This pressure causes these cells to expand and become rigid and as a result, the flower unfolds.
For me personally, learning some of this background increases my appreciation for the springtime bloom all around us and hope it does for you as well.
Check out this blog post to learn more about these biomechanisms: https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/motion-without-muscles-how-flower-petals-move
You might also enjoy this time-lapse video of flowers blooming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjCzPp-MK48&ab_channel=NationalGeographic