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Monday, March 13, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Blue

  Have you ever wondered why blue is a somewhat rare color in flowers? There are lots of shades of violet, but true blue is difficult to find. This exhibit, I'm not sure who created it, focused on blue. You'll notice, though, that the eye-catching display has a blue dress rather than blue flowers.

Look closely at the front of the dress, and you can see flowers spilling out, some of which are blueish purple.

The rest of their display wasn't very full with plants, but they tried to stick with blue. They largely featured Pulmonaria, Lungwort.

If you ever have dabbled with drying flowers, you already know that blue flowers don't dry blue. This can be very annoying when you would like to make a dried arrangement that preserves the color. Sometimes, the color it dries to is a help with identification. Blue lettuce may dry white or yellow depending on the species.

And here's my new fact for the day. I did not know this AT ALL, so I love it. Blue is a really difficult color for plants to produce. The minerals that are true blue in some forms are cobalt and copper (sulfate). But both of those minerals are highly toxic. Plants create anthocyanins which result in shades of color that range from purples to nearly black. (Side note- some purples are the results of betalains, such as beets). But blueberries, purple cabbage, dark autumn leaves, black beans, and many other plants are colored by anthocyanins.

But the plants have to sequester these chemicals within the cell so they don't poison the organism. Within plant cells are sacs called vacuoles. These are surrounded by a membrane that isolates the contents from the rest of the cell. (Specialized structures can move compounds in or out of the vacuoles)

Once the flower is picked and the cells no longer function as living things, the vacuoles break down and the anthocyanins fade. There weren't many blue flowers at the flower show this year although I can think of a few I did not see anywhere. However, there were hyacinths.

And my favorite of what I did see is blue Cineraria, Senetti (a trademark) Pericallis x hybrid.

I got back on track for working on my projects today and got a lot done.

See PFS- Chandelier


Ann said...

Interesting about blue flowers. I didn't know any of that.

The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "Wow, that seems like a lot of effort for the flowers to go through to produce blue. No wonder most of them don't bother!"

Doug said...

Vacuoles makes me flashback to studying HS biology with my son.

Sharkbytes said...

Ann- I knew that blue was less common, but not why.

Lulu- playing with poison is only for the adventurous.

Doug- vacuoles, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum...