Learning about Bees or Butterflies or other pollinators offers up an opportunity to dive into the details of flowers and further down the road of nature appreciation. Butterflies have a proboscis and bees a tongue to reach deep into flowers to drink nectar, a solution of sugars. In doing so, they get covered in pollen grains from the flower anther and inadvertently help spread it to the stigma of other flowers they visit helping to cross pollinate and help flowers go to seed. The nectar has no other function than to attract pollinating animals. Dissecting a flower is a fun way to better understand this process.
Out of abundance and convenience, in the spring I’ll choose daffodils for dissection but if I don’t have a readily available supply of flowers I’ll purchase a few Alstroemeria, commonly called the Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas from a florist. Click Here for an excellent detailed description to help lead the dissection lesson.
The nature explorers will pull the flowers apart in a guided activity to help better understand the parts and functions.
Peduncle: The stalk or stem of a flower.
Receptacle: The stalk where the parts of the flower are attached.
Sepal: The outer parts of the flower (often green and leaf-like) that enclose a developing bud.
Petal: The parts of a flower that are often conspicuously colored.
Stamen: The pollen producing part
Anther: The part of the stamen where pollen is produced.
Pistil: The ovule producing part of a flower. The ovary often supports a long style, topped by a stigma. The mature ovary is a fruit, and the mature ovule is a seed.
Stigma: The part of the pistil where pollen germinates.
Ovary: The basal portion of the pistil where ovules are produced.
Filament: Holds the anther
Style: The tube at the top of the ovary
Discussing the value of pollinators through a fun Pollinator Feud Game, taking a wild flower discovery walk and even cooking and eating dandelion fritters may be included as part of the program.
David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula. He is passionate about making nature accessible to people and wildlife. You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com