Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sometimes, it's the little things in a garden

That make me happy...

 Like how much Bumbles like lavender.
Carpenter Bee visiting 'Senorita Rosalita'®
That sterile flowers like 'Senorita Rosalita'® can produce some nectar, or,

 how much I like a big burnished orange-gold daylily.


But, yesterday topped even those delights when I found seed pods on Trillium cuneatum, one of my favorite Clay and Limestone endemic ephemerals.  It's gratifying to know that the conditions were perfect for these plants to do their thing~Flower, reproduce and along the way provide food for critters and enjoyment for the gardener.
earlier this spring Trillium cuneatum flower is ready for pollination by fruit flies
Much earlier this Spring, on a warm and moist evening, the flowers of Sweet Betsy opened and emitted a sweet fragrance reminiscent of fermented fruits. The flower stayed opened for several days to attract pollinating fruit flies.

It worked! In a few weeks the pod will ripen and the weakened and decaying stem will topple over, the pod will split open and the ants and other critters* will arrive to feast on the fleshy elaiosome that covers each seed.  Some will be eaten in place but, a few seeds will be carried to the nest where the left over seed will be dumped in their trash heap. This garbage rich midden is a good growing medium where trillium offspring might germinate.
Trillium cuneatum offspring starts with a single leaf
I don't know about you, but, I love the idea of ants having a compost heap! That's another little thing that makes me happy.

xxoogail

* Trillium are one of many woodland plants whose seeds are dispersed by ants and other critters. This process is called myrmecochory.  Try using that one in a sentence today!

Often the the work of researchers goes unrecognized or uncredited. Please  check out this study on other critters that aid in trillium seed disbursement.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone." She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

28 comments:

  1. So exciting about your seed pod on the Trillium! That's great news!

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  2. That makes me happy, as well, dear Gail. I hope you get some single leaf babies soon. This has inspired me to go check out the trilliums growing here. Perhaps there will be something to make me happy...
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  3. that IS exciting Gail. A profusion of trillium blooms would be a glorious thing...

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    Replies
    1. I hope so...Now that would make me very happy.

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  4. great little things! very beautiful :)

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    Replies
    1. They are aren't they. I am so glad I found them.

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  5. Studying my wildflowers has taught me how important ants are to many of them...so cool to find these little critters making sure my wildflowers are spread around. Love that trillium.

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  6. I shall look at ants in a different manner now! Did not think of them spreading seeds but makes sense after thinking on it...

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  7. Wonderful photos!
    I love the Day Lily.
    Ants with compost piles - Wow!
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Technically a trash heap, but, they only deposit organic matter and in my book that makes it compost!

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  8. Great lesson on the trillium! Lovely photos.

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  9. I am not familiar with any of these flowers, but they are beautiful. Your bumble bee also looks different from ours, which is almost fully black, but maybe the same size!

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  10. It's the little things that make it all worthwhile.

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  11. Not only did I learn a new word today, but I also learned that ants help to disperse seeds, which I didn't know before. Nature is amazing!

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  12. How interesting! Fruit flies pollinating the Trillium and ants dispersing the seeds...nature at work! To have baby Trillium is super!!

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  13. Gail I love the Bumbles that stop by the garden! I have lanender growing in my woodlands..a sunny spot I found and in the heat of the day I sit and enjoy the buzzing activity! I will invest in Trilliums after reading what the ants can do to help fill my woods with flowers!! Then I can use the word "myrmecochory." :)

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  14. OOPS!! I'm tongue tied...I meant to type Lavender!! blushing.

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    1. I didn't notice the typo! My brain saw lavender.

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  15. Ants with a compost heap? Too cute. I agree on the little things in the garden and with no rain I am sure trying to focus on the little things too.

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  16. That is exciting! I agree with you on your compost comment. :)

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  17. Gail, everything you shoot has such great light...it's different where you are, and so beautiful.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  18. It truly is the little things. Now, here's what I'm wondering about . . . what has happened to all my bumbles dear Gail? I haven't seen hardly any this year, and that makes me very sad. I had tons last year. I wonder if it's just still too early. It's a conundrum. I love all of your info about Trillium cuneatum. I didn't know those things.~~Dee

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    1. I've just really started seeing them in the garden this month, but, not in the numbers we've had previously. According to an article in The National Geographic last year, they have taken a nosedive...http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110104-bumblebees-bees-decline-fungus-mystery-science-animals/ I am so very saddened by this. gail

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  19. So true about the little things, Gail. I learned some new things about Trilliums from this post--thank you!

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  20. How exciting to see your trillium seed pod, Gail! I never thought about ants having their own compost heaps, but that explains a few things around here . . .

    Senorita Rosalita has ended up in a lot of clients' gardens this year. They spoke to me in the nurseries, and I had to say yes. Good to know the bumbles will enjoy them! We seem to have a lot of bumbles around here this year, even more than usual, though some other bees seem more scarce than usual. Maybe some of Dee's bumbles came here this year, along with her hot, dry weather from last summer! ;~)

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  21. I must say that these are wonderful photos and knowing that photo shooting the wild life and gardens is a hard task you deserve a special thanks! I also love a big burnished orange-gold daylily!

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  22. I am not a detail person in any part of my life - but I am glad for my garden and gardneners like you who make me stop and look for the tiny amazements in the world.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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