(Collinsonia Canadensis) Mint family

Flowers - Light yellowish, lemon-scented, about 1/2 in. long,

mostly opposite, in numerous spreading racemes, forming long,

loose terminal clusters. Calyx bell-shaped, 2-lipped, upper lip

3-toothed, lower lip 2-cleft; corolla 5-lobed, 4 lobes nearly

equal, the fifth much larger, fringed; stamens protruding, 2

anther-bearing; 1 long style, the stigma forked.

Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.

Flowering Season - July-October.

Distribution - New England, Ontario, and Wisconsin, south to

Florida and Kansas.

Now that we have come to read the faces of flowers much as their

insect friends must have done for countless ages, we suspect at a

glance that the strong-scented horse-balm, with its profusion of

lemon-colored, irregular little blossoms, is up to some ingenious

trick. The lower lip, out of all proportion to the rest of the

corolla, flaunting its enticing fringes; the long stamens

protruding from some flowers, and only the long style from others

on the same plant, excite our curiosity. Where many fragrant

clumps grow in cool, shady woods at midsummer, is an excellent

place to rest a while and satisfy it. Presently a bumblebee,

attracted by the odor from afar, alights on the fringed platform

too weak to hold him. Dropping downward, he snatches the

filaments of the two long stamens to save himself; and, as he

does so, pollen jarred out of their anther sacs falls on his

thorax at the juncture of his wings. Hanging beneath the flower a

second, he sips its nectar and is off. Many bees, large and

small, go through a similar performance. Now the young, newly

opened flowers have the forked stigmas of the long style only

protruding at this stage, the miniature stamens being still

curled within the tube. Obviously a pollen-dusted bee coming to

one of these young flowers must rub off some of the vitalizing

dust on the sticky fork that purposely impedes his entrance at

the precise spot necessary. Notice that after a flower's stamens

protrude in the second stage of its development the fork is

turned far to one side to get out of harm's way -

self-fertilization being an abomination. It was the lamented

William Hamilton Gibson who first called attention to the

horse-balm's ingenious scheme to prevent it.

HONEYSUCKLE HOUND'S TONGUE GYPSY FLOWER facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail