A Wildflower Adaptation Study
Spring is a great time to learn about the adaptations of wildflowers. Do you live where you can visit a forested spot and a field that isn’t mowed? A park with hiking paths would be perfect. If you do, this activity can help you learn about plant adaptations.
Adaptation is a very interesting idea in the science of living things. An adaptation is the way a living thing is shaped or the way it acts or grows. Adaptations help a living thing meet its life needs. For example, people can stand up and walk on their legs. This means we do not walk on our hands. It makes it easier for us to use our hands to make things like tools and to use them.
Plants have some interesting adaptations that help them. Flowers are an adaptation that helps many plants make seeds to grow new plants. Some flowering plants use bright petals and sugar water called nectar to get insects to visit. Visiting insects help move pollen among flowers so seeds will form. Growing a bright colored flower with food in it for a visiting insect can take a lot of energy. This can be a problem for plants that live in the woods where the big trees overhead block out a lot of sunlight.
As early in the spring as you can, visit your study woodland. Look on the ground as you walk along the path. How much of the ground is sunny? How much is shady? How many different flowers do you find? (Don’t pick them. Leave them there to make seeds to grow more flowers.) How many flowers do you find? Make a list or take photographs or just simply count. Taking pictures might be the easiest way to make a record of the flowers you see. Be sure to write down the date of your woodland walk.
Try to also look at a field that is not mowed. How many flowers do you see there? Again, make a record by counting or taking photographs. What can you say about how sunny the field is?
Walk the same areas again two weeks later and look for flowers. Once again, keep a record of the flowers you see and how much of the ground is sunny and how much shady. Do this again later in the season. Each time, record the date and information about how many flowers you see and how sunny it is. Make sure one of your visits is in the summer.
When do you see the most flowers in the woods? Is this before the trees leaf out? When do you see the most flowers in the field? Do they flower when most of the plants in the forest do? Using this information, what can you infer? Can you come up with a sentence or two about a forest wildflower adaptation to get enough energy to make flowers? Do field wildflowers have the same adaptation?
Can you come up with more questions about wildflowers that you could try to answer on your own?