The Forest Floor
Part III - Fancy Plants!
They sure do! Plants just move differently than we do! Some flowers close up at night and open in the morning. Some leaves even close when touched to protect themselves! Plants grow and change a little bit each day to access food and nutrients, just like you!
Have you noticed on your adventures how many different shapes and colors, smells and textures plants have? Even plants that seem plain and simple have so many special characteristics that make them unique! Here are a few things to notice while exploring plants...
Plants have lots of different shades and colors! Sometimes you need to look closely to find them, and sometimes they are bright and showy.
Flowers are beautiful and often colorful to attract and communicate with pollinators! There are many other petal colors that our human eyes can't see, but flying insects can. These colors instruct insects on where to land to pollinate the blossom. How cool!
Some plants have silvery or colorful undersides to their leaves. Silvery undersides may help reflect light so plants get a double-dose of sun! Other pigments (like the purple in Crane Fly Orchid from the movie) may act as a sunscreen so that the leaves don’t get damaged by too much sunlight on the unprotected forest floor in winter and early spring. People don’t exactly know why plants have chosen certain colors…maybe Sir Cumberbun is right and they’re just fancy!
Another thing that makes each plant unique is its smell! This can be a great way to tell a plant apart from others! When you rub Little Brown Jug leaves with your fingers they smell sweet and ginger-like, which is why it’s also considered a wild ginger. If you rub Paw Paw leaves (from Chapter II) they smell spicy like a tomato or pepper plant! Some Trillium flowers smell like rotten meat to attract certain insects to them! Yuck! If you're ever having a hard time telling certain plants apart, the smell can help you figure it out! Plus, it’s super fun fun to go around sniffing plants like a wild animal!
That's right! Some plants are hairy. If you look closely, you might see hair on the leaves or stem of some plants.
Flowers can be the fanciest and most unique parts of some plants! If you are lucky enough to find a plant in flower, it can help you tell them apart from other similar looking plants!
There are two main types of flower shapes - regular and irregular. Knowing these basic patterns can help you notice more about the flowers you find!
Regular, or radial, flower petals are all the same size and shape. They fan out from a central point like on a wheel, and are symmetrical all the way around. An insect standing in the center of the flower will see pretty much the same shape no matter which direction it looks. The Wild Geranium flowers in the movie are a good example of radial flowers.
Irregular, or bilateral, flowers have some petals that are a different size or shape. These flowers are symmetrical on the right and left side. If a line was drawn down the middle of the flower it would look like the two sides are mirror images of each other. The Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower in the last movie is an example of an irregular flower.
Ready for adventure?
It's your turn to do some exploring!
Can you find any flowers near your house that close at night and open in the morning? Take a look outside early in the morning before the ground has warmed up and look for any flowers that are closed. Check back again in the middle of the day and see if they have opened!
Find a plant with an interesting smell!
See if you can find a plant that has a different color on the underside of its leaves than it has on top!
Find a regular flower and an irregular flower and draw them both in your journal!