Snapdragons Have Brains and Beauty

Snapdragons Have Brains and Beauty

Matthew Noiseux
Jul 9, 2010

First, it's a great time to get snapdragons. They are a perfect local summery choice to bring along for a picnic or brunch with friends. And I'll tell you a story about these very resourceful flowers that'll make you appreciate them even more.

Last week I wrote a bit about garden fragrance. This week is somewhat related: Snapdragons and bumblebees have a very close relationship. The flowers use fragrance, form and superb timing to seduce as many as possible!

Fragrance is produced four times as much during the bees' most active time during the day than at any other time. The flowers don't waste their fragrance, either. They only use it on the outer lobes of the upper and lower petals - and keep most of the fragrance for when the flower has grown to a mature size.

The short story is that the bees then can climb into the flower in an attempt to get the nectar at the flower base. Those top and bottom lobes are hinged like a coinpurse, and the bee has to kind of squeeze through them.

In doing so the bees get the fragrance all over their topside and underside. The bee then goes back to the hive smelling fragrant and it excites other bees who then go out in search of more snapdragons.

From a design standpoint snapdragons are quite impressive! Keep that story in mind the next time you see these seemingly innocent blossoms.

Matt writes a weekly column on plants, flowers and gardening. Feel free to e-mail questions to

(Images: 1.Tatters via Flickr, using Creative Common License; 2. Plant Cell)

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