Gardeners get science lesson

Staff report

SIDNEY — Members of the Rainbow Gardeners of Shelby County club got a science lecture during their February meeting when Marian Moeckel presented “Spikes, and Rounds, and Sprays, Oh My!”

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Moeckel explained the various parts and functions of a flower: The female part is the pistil, she said. The pistil usually is located in the center of the flower and is made up of three parts: stigma, style and ovary. The stigma is the sticky knob at the top of the pistil. It is attached to a long, tube-like structure called the style. The style leads to the ovary that contains the female egg cells called ovules. The male parts are called stamens and usually surround the pistil. The stamen is made up of two parts: the anther and filament. The anther produces pollen (male reproductive cells). The filament holds the anther up.

During the process of fertilization, pollen lands on the stigma, a tube grows down the style and enters the ovary. Male reproductive cells travel down the tube and join with the ovule, fertilizing it. The fertilized ovule becomes the seed, and the ovary becomes the fruit of a plant.

Petals surround the reproductive portions of the flower to attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. At the base of the flower is the calyx. It is composed of green, leaf-like structures called sepals that serve to protect the developing flower bud.

Moeckel said when exhibitors enter flower specimens in the fair that are not specifically named, it is important to know whether the specimen is an example of a round flower, a spike flower or a spray flower.

A spike is a form in which florets grow on a single stalk and usually bloom from bottom to top. A spike entered in a flower show should be erect with florets that are evenly spaced. The ratio of open florets to buds should be about 2 to 1, and the flower should look fresh rather than brownish. The flowers from some grasses can be displayed as spike forms, Moeckel said. Examples of spikes include lupine, lavender, bells of Ireland, and hosta flowers.

Round forms are those that have a flat, round, central disk surrounded by petals in single or multiple rows. The center is actually a composite flower. Round flowers should always be disbudded and should have petals that are evenly distributed around the central disk, she said. Examples include zinnia, crested celosia, coreopsis, hibiscus, and gaillardia.

Spray forms start with a single stem from which lateral stems or pedicels bear flowers that form a cluster. At the tip of the single stem is a terminal bloom which blossoms first. Branching should be uniform and airy. Moeckel suggested selecting a sturdy stem that is in proportion to the flower cluster. The terminal flower should be carefully removed if it looks spent, she noted. Lateral stems can also be removed if they detract from the uniformity of the flower cluster. Examples of spray forms include statice, verbena, lisianthus, allium, and yarrow.

Moeckel then gave a quiz to see if members could determine the correct form and name for each of the flowers she displayed.

Staff report