What would be a reason for a tree to have flowers of different colors?

The spring is here and the cherry trees along my street are blooming again! Some trees have white flowers, some dark pink. But then… there're these trees which are all white yet just a few flowers are pink, just like that:

Is there a layman explanation for this phenomenon?

This is probably an example of Co-Dominance

As you may have learned according to mendelian inheritance there exists dominant and recessive allels. However in reality there also exist phenomena like incomplete dominance and co-dominance where no specific allels are said to be dominant over the other.

There are a couple of possibilities for what's going on here:

  1. The most likely explanation is Position Effect Variegation (PEV). Genes are, at the most basic level, organized linearly on chromosomes (very long strings of DNA). Some parts of chromosomes contain stretches of genes that are actively silenced, or turned off, by cells (large silenced regions like this are called heterochromatin). The boundaries of where this silencing starts and ends are sometimes fuzzy. If a gene necessary to produce pigment happens to be next to a silenced region, the silencing can randomly creep in and shut off that gene as well, or creep back to its normal boundary. (This is why it's called 'position' effect variegation: it depends on the physical position of a gene, in this case the pigment gene, on the chromosome, and how close it happens to be to a normally 'silenced' region.) This process is (probably) effectively random, so it won't happen in every cell, which means some cells will produce pigment whereas others won't. A famous example of this happens in fly eyes, as in the image on the left. Importantly, the difference here isn't 'genetic' (the actual content of the DNA), but 'epigenetic' - essentially, the way cells modify and read their own DNA.
  2. Another possibility is an active jumping gene, or transposon: unlike most genes, transposons can move around in the DNA, and can sometimes carry with them a piece of DNA that tells nearby genes to be turned on or off (or are simply silenced by the cell, like in the PEV case above). If a transposon sits right near a pigment gene, it can cause that gene to be silenced. However, if the transposon up and jumps somewhere else at a random time (which active transposons do!), the gene nearby is no longer silenced, and can now cause pigment to be produced again. There's an example of this happening in snapdragons (see middle image). In this case, there is an actual genetic difference between the pink and white cells: one group has a jumping gene sitting next to the pigment gene, and the other doesn't.

Importantly, PEV silencing--like the transposon jumping--is inherited when cells divide, so if a stem cell that eventually makes a whole flower silences the pigment gene (or transposon jumps out), the whole flower will be white. If the silencing happens later in development, maybe when the early divisions forming the flower have happened, then a single petal, or just a sector of a petal, could be white, and the rest pink. Such sectoring is a telltale sign of PEV or transposon-related effects.

In your photo and description, the tree is mostly white, and individual sectors are pink, not vice versa. If the cause of the color switch is PEV, then the pigment gene's 'default' in this tree being silenced, with the silencing randomly moving away from the pigment gene in some cells. Or there could be a particularly active transposon that tends to bring gene silencing along with it at play here.

Why Do You See Various Shades Of Green In A Garden?

Take an adventure out in nature and you&rsquoll find an artist&rsquos palette laid at your fingertips. The gorgeous hues of pink and purple flowers, the firm and reliable colors of browns in the tree bark, and the canopy of green in the leaves rustling in the wind. Within the world of greens, there are so many varieties, fern green, myrtle green, pine green, not to mention mint green, lime green, and avocado green. Teal, olive and dark moss green are just a few more.

Within this wondrous diversity of greens lies a fantastic molecular secret that sustains all life on our planet.

Why Are Flowers Colored?

The colors of flowers are not just for humans to enjoy, but actually serve far more significant purposes. Plants need to reproduce, and for that they depend on reproduction through pollination. And for that, they need to entice pollinators like insects and birds to visit them. Evolution drove flowers to bright colors as a strategy to

Brightly colored flowers attract insects, especially bees, which are the largest contributors to plants&rsquo reproduction, as they can carry pollen to other plants. Colored flowers are advertisements of food. It&rsquos nature&rsquos equivalent of McDonalds telling us their burgers are &lsquofinger lickin&rsquo good&rsquo. The food flowers provide is nectar and pollen.

While these insects are busy sucking nectar or collecting pollen, some of the flower&rsquos pollen will stick to their legs. When the same insects sit on some other flower of the same species, the pollen that they had gathered (quite unwittingly) from the former will spread on these new flowers. Lo and behold, pollination takes place and the circle of flowering life continues! Since pollinators are the target audience, not humans, there are certain colorations that our eyes can&rsquot perceive.

Consider the Black-eyed Susan. It looks like a smaller, daintier version of the sunflower, with sweet yellow petals encircling a black center. But, look through a bee&rsquos eyes and you&rsquoll see the tips of the flowers as light yellow and the base as a darker yellow. This creates a sort of bull-eye pattern showing the bee exactly where the goods are.

Another pollination mastermind are the orchids. Their brightly colored petals, and the odd shape of the flower often manipulate insects by mimic either their mates, as in the case of bee orchids mimicking the mate of a bee, or by mimicking other flowers that bees frequent, like the red helleborine orchid&rsquos petals mimicking bellflower&rsquos purple petals.

The above picture is of the bee orchid that disguises as a bee&rsquos mate. The lower to picture show the red helleborine orchid (left) mimicking is the bellflower (right). (Photo Credit : Bernard DUPONT & Wilson44691 & Björn /Wikimedia Commons)

Plants don&rsquot only use pollinators to disperse their pollen. In some cases external agents such as wind will do the trick. Those plants don&rsquot waste energy on creating pigments or any tasty nectar for pollinators. Rather the structure of their petals and pollen reflect the mode of pollination. Form dictates function.

From the red of roses to the blue of cornflowers, the yellow of sunflowers and the hidden bull&rsquos eye lurking in black eyed Susans, plants have aced the being resourceful and crafty. Their beauty might provide tranquility to some, or reinforce one&rsquos faith in something larger than themselves. For scientists, these flowers represent all the mysteries of nature.

Plants With Multi-Colored Flowers

Some plants produce groups or clusters of flowers that have different colors, as well. One example is lantana (Lantana camara), which grows in USDA zones 8 to 11. The 2-inch flower heads display white, ivory, yellow or darker hues, depending on the variety. "Athens Rose" will add deep pink and yellow blooms to your garden, while "Miss Huff" contributes orange, coral and gold. For deeper oranges, yellows and reds, try "New Red" or "Texas Flame," or choose "Patriot Honeylove" for paler pink, yellow and ivory.

Grafting A New Color

Fruit trees, tomatoes and roses are only a few of the plants that are often produced in grafted form. In grafting, a cutting from a mature plant (the scion) is mechanically joined to the rootstock of another plant from the same genus. Usually the scion is a somewhat tender plant and the rootstock is from a stronger variety. The two joined pieces grow together into a new entity. At times root suckers from the rootstock will emerge from the ground and grow up to produce flowers that have different colors or shapes from those of the scion plant.

Grafting, first practiced in China and Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago, is difficult and labor intensive. The process requires deep knowledge of plant species, making it an impractical method for a casual home gardener.

Tree Shape or Silhouette

Treehugger/ Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Though not technically a part of a tree, the tree shape is still a distinguishing feature and another way to help in its identification. Naturalist Roger Tory Peterson says that unlike the precise silhouette of birds, a tree is not so consistent in form or shape: "The beginner, learning his trees, yearns for a book that will give him shapes and field marks by which he can make snap identification. But it isn't that easy. within limits, one can with practice, recognize by shape and manner of growth quite a few trees."

A yellow poplar will always look like a yellow poplar in a very general sense. However, a young tree may look entirely different from the parent tree. A forest-grown tree may grow tall and slender while his field-grown cousin develops a maximum crown in the open sun.

The most common tree shapes include broadly conical, broadly columnar, narrowly conical, narrowly columnar, and broadly spreading. Even with these shapes, though, you will obviously need more information to identify certain trees by species.

Description of the Mango Tree

Mango trees are evergreen trees with a thick trunk and wide canopy. They can grow to a height of 100 feet or more with a canopy extending to about 35 feet or more, depending upon the climate and richness of the soil.

The leaves are leathery, lanceolate, and found in simple-alternate arrangement on the branches. They are dark green and about 5� inches in length.

Flowers are borne in panicles 4� inches long and have several hundred small, white flowers that are 1/4-inch wide when fully open. Most of the flowers function as male flowers, but some are bisexual and form fruits after pollination. Pollination takes place through flies, wasps, bees, and even ants.

The mango is called the "King of Fruits" due to its creamy, rich taste and aromatic flavor. The fruit of the mango tree is a drupe that varies in size and shape with shades of red and yellow or dull green. The fruit can be oval, round, heart-shaped, kidney-shaped, or long and slender. It has a single flat, large seed with a surrounding fleshy layer.

About the Trees

Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.

From a seed no bigger than one from a tomato, California's coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) may grow to a height of 367 feet (112 m) and have a width of 22 feet (7 m) at its base. Imagine a 35-story skyscraper in your city and you have an inkling of the trees' ability to arouse humility.

Some visitors envision dinosaurs rumbling through these forests in bygone eras. It turns out that this is a perfectly natural thought. Fossil records have shown that relatives of today's coast redwoods thrived in the Jurassic Era 160 million years ago. And while the fantastic creatures of that age have long since disappeared, the redwoods continue to thrive, in the right environment.

California's North Coast provides the only such environment in the world. A combination of longitude, climate, and elevation limits the redwoods' range to a few hundred coastal miles. The cool, moist air created by the Pacific Ocean keeps the trees continually damp, even during summer droughts. These conditions have existed for some time, as the redwoods go back 20 million years in their present range.

Growth Factors

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires.

The redwoods' unusual ability to regenerate also aids in their survival as a species. They do not rely solely upon sexual reproduction, as many other trees must. New sprouts may come directly from a stump or downed tree's root system as a clone. Basal burls — hard, knotty growths that form from dormant seedlings on a living tree — can sprout a new tree when the main trunk is damaged by fire, cutting, or toppling.

Undoubtedly the most important environmental influence upon the coast redwood is its own biotic community. The complex soils on the forest floor contribute not only to the redwoods' growth, but also to a verdant array of greenery, fungi, and other trees. A healthy redwood forest usually includes massive Douglas-firs, western hemlocks, tanoaks, madrones, and other trees. Among the ferns and leafy redwood sorrels, mosses and mushrooms help to regenerate the soils. And of course, the redwoods themselves eventually fall to the floor where they can be returned to the soil.

The coast redwood environment recycles naturally because the 100-plus inches of annual rainfall leaves the soil with few nutrients, the trees rely on each other, living and dead for their vital nutrients. The trees need to decay naturally to fully participate in this cycle, so when logging occurs, the natural recycling is interrupted.

Many different shrubs populate the understory of old-growth redwood forests. Among them are berry bushes such as red and evergreen huckleberry, blackberry, salmonberry, and thimbleberry. Black bears and other inhabitants of the forest make use of these seasonal food sources.

Perhaps the most famous and spectacular member of the redwood understory is the brilliantly colored California rhododendron. In springtime, the rhododendrons transform the redwood forests into a dazzling display of purple and pink colors.

Role of Fog

Especially during summer, the North Coast is often gray with a thick layer of fog. When inland temperatures are high, the fog is drawn in from over the ocean. This natural cooling and moistening system is beneficial to the redwoods near the coast.

Fog precipitates onto the forest greenery and then drips to the forest floor, providing a small bit of moisture during summer dry periods. Fog accounts for about 40 percent of the redwoods' moisture intake.

Root System

Aside from logging, the most frequent cause of death for mature redwoods is windthrow. The reason for this is that redwoods have no taproot. The roots only go down 10 to 13 feet (3-4 m) deep before spreading outward 60 to 80 feet (20-27 m).

Large redwoods move hundreds of gallons of water daily along their trunks from roots to crown. This water transpires into the atmosphere through the trees' foliage. Powered by the leaves' diffusion of water, water-to-water molecular bonds in the trees' sapwood drags the moisture upwards.

During the summer, this transpiration causes redwood stems to shrink and swell with the cycles of day and night.

Why Plants Have Flowers

Flowers are some of nature's prettiest creations. Just take a walk outside -- there are so many to see! They come in many different sizes, colors, and shapes. If you think about it, they are kind of like people that way. But have you ever wondered why there are so many different flowers? In fact, why do plants have flowers anyway? It could be that flowers blossom so that people like you and your friends have something pretty to look at and smell. That sounds really nice, but that isn't why plants have flowers. They actually grow for a really cool reason. They want to have babies! Okay, so plants don't really have babies, at least not like humans do. Plants do need to multiply and make more plants like themselves. To do that they need seeds. That's where flowers come in: They help plants make seeds!

Both the male and the female parts carry important information that the new plant will need to grow and basically be a plant. The type of information depends on whether it comes from the male or the female part. The information that comes from the male part of the plant is in the pollen. That's right -- pollen! The information that comes from the female part of the flower comes from the ovules. The tricky part is getting the pollen to the ovules so that they can combine information together for the new plant that they'll make. To do that, a little help from nature is needed.

Plants have a bit of a problem when it comes to getting pollen to other plants so that they can reproduce, or make more plants. Since they can't pull up their roots and walk where they need to go, they depend on insects and animals and even the wind to do the hard work for them. Windy days are great for flowers and the spreading of pollen. On windy days, gusts of wind may blow pollen to other flowers. But what about insects? Insects need a little bit of motivation to help out. This is one of the reasons flowers are so colorful and why they smell as good as they do. Certain insects are attracted to the color of a flower's petals. Some insects like the way a flower smells. When the insect lands on this sweet-smelling and pretty flower, it gets a bonus for its effort in the form of nectar. As the insect (which can be something like a bee) makes its way to the nectar, it has to touch the pollen on the male part of the flower. This part is called the stamen and it is covered in pollen. The sticky pollen clings to the legs and body of the insect. But don't worry, it doesn't hurt it and the insect really doesn't mind so much.

The pollen needs to get to another flower and the plant is depending on the hungry insect to do the work. When the insect flies to another flower, it rubs against the female part of the plant and pollen falls off. This female part is what we call the stigma. The stigma is connected to a tube called a style. The style is also connected to the flower's ovary. The pollen travels from the stigma to the ovary.

Whew! That sure was a lot to say, and it might be a lot to understand too. Sometimes it is easier to understand when you have a picture to look at. A picture can show you the parts of a flower, starting with the outside of it. In this picture you'll see a closed flower. The colorful part of the flower is its petals. The small leaves at the base of the petals are called sepals.

The petals protect the inside of the flower. The inside is where you'll find the male and female parts that we mentioned earlier. If you remove several of the petals, you'll see the center of the flower is the female part. The entire part is called a pistil or a carpel. This pistil includes the stigma, the style, and the ovary. Around the pistil are the male parts. As noted, this is called the stamen. At the top of the stamen is a fat structure called an anther. The anther is where the pollen is made. It is held upright by a thinner stalk called a filament. The filament keeps the anther away from the pistil so that the flower does not fertilize itself. This is very important for plants because it makes each plant slightly different. If a plant fertilizes or pollinates itself, the new plant would be exactly the same as its parent! That means all of the new plants and the parent plant would be weak in the same way.

The following image shows an insect crawling into a pretty flower. As you can see, the insect is touching the stamen and picking up pollen as it moves. The pollen from this plant will be left on the stigma of the next flower it visits.

So how does that seed get made? When the pollen from the insect falls on the stigma it is pollination. The pollen moves down the pollen tube. The ovary at the base of this tube has made an ovule. When the pollen reaches the ovule it fertilizes it. Fertilization turns the ovule to a seed. The seed is a hard shell that protects and contains the baby plant. When that seed falls to the ground and the conditions are right, the baby plant will begin to grow and eventually turn into a new plant!

Why Do Flowers Change Color in Food Coloring – Experiment for Kids

You can now change the flower color at home and at any time during the year. Let us understand the science behind this experiment.

How do flowers change color in food colors? Wondering how? Let’s try this natural science experiment with white roses.

This experiment can be done with preschoolers and they will love to make their hands colorful too. Other kids including Kindergarteners and 7 – 9-year-old kids can do this experiment, not just for fun but to learn some science as well. They can change the variables and see the changes in the results.

I tried this with my elder and younger daughter Pritika and Tisha when they were 6 years and 4 years old respectively.

What do you need to change the color of flowers?

    – Liquid or you can mix water to make them liquid.
  • Glass bottle or simply water glass.
  • Water
  • White flowers (in my case – roses).

[*Product links are affiliate links. Your support is highly appreciated]

We tried this experiment with both white roses and daisy flowers. For some reason, the daisy flower didn’t get the optimum result (we suspect the powder form of food coloring). But I will update on this more once I find out. Check for more white flowers here.

For now, lets see what did we do to make the color change in white roses.

Steps to follow

Step 1: Select a glass container (bottle or test tube or anything of that sort). Now just add few drops of food color of your choice. We chose Blue but that is completely up to you .

Step 2: Now I asked my elder daughter to pour enough water to the water glass. This would make a glass full of water with food color.

Step 3: This is an optional step. I cut the stem of the flower with a sharp knife. The cut needs to be in cross of the stem so that the cut part has enough exposed area to absorb water. Just make sure we have enough length to submerse it into the glass of food color. I took care of this step as I am not happy to give sharp knives to kids. If your kid is doing this step, just be attentive and watch over the kids.

Step 4: Now my younger daughter Tisha stepped in to do her part in the experiment. She carefully inserted the flowers in the food color filled glass. She started complaining that the color didn’t change. I explained her that it will take time.

We waited for an hour and couldn’t see any change in the flowers yet.

So we decided to sleep and came back in the morning. After 12 hours, the rose flower started showing significant amount of blue color in the petals. We also observed that the edge of the petals had more color than the inner side of it. It was so pretty that my younger one started jumping in joy.

We let the flower sit in the food color for additional 12 hours. After 24 hours, the flower had blue all over the petals and looked even more prettier. Mission Accomplished.

Absorption of water happens through the xylem and these are tissues present as thin tubes inside the stem. Water is carried to other parts of the plant including flowers through the Xylem. Water travels to the xylem when the molecules in the xylem and the water molecules get attracted. It also happens due to solar energy and transpiration. Transpiration is a process that happens when the sunlight evaporates the water from the stems, leaves, and flowers. The loss in water from these parts will create a vacuum in the xylem tubes top and encourages the water to be absorbed for filling the empty space. Imagine the movement of any liquid when you drink them using a straw. Learn more from here.

Learn about the botanical characteristics of flowers from this page.

Please try this experiment and share your comments.

For more flower or experiments about nature check the links given below.

    a new experiment for you to try
  • Follow this link and make multi-colored chrysanthemums in blue, white and red. We used a vase swapping idea
  • This experiment is a follow up to understand which flower absorbs the most vibrant colors. experiment is almost the same as this one but with a twist

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