Adaptations in Flowers


Flowers are the colorful part of a plant's mechanism of reproduction. In order to increase the odds of pollination, some plants have creatively adapted to attract a certain type of insect or animal to visit their particular type of flower. Some use specific colors, others use scent and some offer sex as a draw.


  • Bees use scent to find their food, so the flowers they frequent most are sweetly-perfumed. Since bees cannot see red, most flowers that are pollinated by bees are blue or yellow and have UV nectar guides, which are landing patterns that guide the bee to the nectar. Snapdragons only cater to a specific species of bee. Their blossoms are designed to only open for bees of a certain weight.


  • Butterflies can see red and have excellent vision but a weak sense of smell. They also like to perch when they feed. Flowers that attract butterflies have bright petals but are mostly odorless. They grow in clusters with convenient landing pads for their pollinators.


  • Flowers that attract moths are fragrant and in white or pale colors to increase visibility at night. Some only open after sunset. Each plant has a flower constructed to match the length of the tongue of a particular species of moth. This means the moth is more likely to visit the same species of flower and the collected pollen does not go to waste.


  • Hummingbirds have long, slender bills, great vision and a poor sense of smell. Flowers that attract them are usually in clusters and have long tubes to accommodate their bills. When the hummingbird dips in to get the nectar, pollen is brushed on its head and shoulders.

Flies and Ground Insects

  • Some plants have flowers that smell far from sweet and are meant to attract flies, or if near the ground, beetles or ants. The world's largest and some say most foul-odored flower is called the "Corpse Flower" because it smells like rotting flesh.

The Promise of Sex

  • Male wasps are lured into the petals of certain species of orchids that look and smell like female wasps. He lands on one orchid and tries to mate. Not having any luck, he visits the next flower, and the next, pollinating them all as he continues to try to mate.


  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Josef Mohyla
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