Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This is a Trillium ovatum flower. They rarely flower before the age of 12. This is after completing several other life stages. When they first flower, they are pure white. Only those that have been flowering for several years will take on this shade of pink. Their seeds have a fatty protein rich body on them that attracts ants called the elaiosome. The ants take the seeds into their tunnels, and eat the elaiosome. The ants are not able to break through the protective coating of the seed itself, so they discard it in tact into a waste chamber in their burrow. Here the seed has a place to germinate, free from predators, with access to plenty of organic fertilizer from the ants. This phenomenon with the ants and the seeds is called myrmecochory, and is found in many types of plants. Unique (so far) to Trillium flowers is their ability to attract and be dispersed by wasps. This is termed vespicochory.