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26 June: Flowering season begins!

Today marks our second Friday of the summer field season and also the beginning of flowering season for Echinacea. We spent the day working in teams to track phenology in the remnants, and found that several plants have already started producing pollen. Woohoo!

Gina records the status of plants at East Riley.

Gina records the status of plants at East Riley.

We can estimate how many days a plant has been flowering because Echinacea florets  follow a specific pattern of development:

On the first day of flowering, anthers emerges from above the bract that subtends (or supports) the floret. The anther is the male, pollen-producing part of the flower. Flowering occurs from the outermost florets of the Echinacea heads and moves inwards; on the first day of flowering, only florets in the outer ring of florets will produce anthers. On the second day of flowering, styles (the female, pollen-receiving part of the plant) emerge from the florets that had anthers the day before. Also, florets in the second row of florets could start producing anthers. On the following day, these florets will have their styles emerge, and the pattern continues.

Today we learned how to identify anthers and styles. We caught most of the flowering plants on their first or second day of flowering, but we estimated that some of them had already begun 3 or 4 days ago based on the number of rows that had already had anthers and styles.

Here's a plant on it's first day of flowering. The blue arrow points at an anther.

Here’s a plant on it’s first day of flowering. The light blue arrow points at an anther.

Matt’s wife, Melinda, and the Brazilian exchange student that they are hosting, Thiago, ate lunch with us and brought a strawberry pie with cool-whip and blueberries. Yum!! And then at the end of the day Hattie and Per brought out a surprise treat for us! It was an original recipe: ginger-stuffed marshmallows coated in chocolate and rolled in graham crackers and ginger. How lucky are we??

Scrumptious delicacies courtesy of Hattie and Per!

Scrumptious delicacies courtesy of Hattie and Per! Yum!

We ended a little early today because we were scared off by a little rain and ominous-looking storm clouds rolling in from the west. It turned out that we didn’t get much of the storm and we went swimming in Elk Lake after work.

 

 

 

 

 

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