En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 08, 2009

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: General Botany
Title: Why do some flowers open during the day and close at night?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My son is doing a science fair project on the California Poppies. We are trying to find the definitive answer on why the flowers open during the day and close at night.

ANSWER:

Probably the reason you have not been able to find a definitive answer is that there isn't any. Although some studies have certainly been made, we couldn't find any scientific conclusions on the subject. We did, however, find the name of the function, from a website called Seeds Aside Word of the Week: Nyctinasty. Eschscholzia californica (California poppy) is just one of many plants on which this occurs. 

Since the purpose of the science fair project is no doubt to encourage students to learn how to do research and make conclusions on their own, we are going to suggest he begin by searching on the word "nyctinasty." We found the word by Googling on "flowers that close at night."  We would warn him, though, not to take everything on the Internet as absolute fact; a lot of it is opinion, not fact, a lot of it is speculation, and some of it is just wrong. He might want to list some of those speculations-like closing to hold in moisture (possible, but not proved) or the bloom was protecting its seeds from predators (maybe). 

 

More General Botany Questions

Difference between Convallaria majalis and Convallaria majuscula
May 17, 2012 - How do you tell the difference in the native convallaria from the European species?
view the full question and answer

Native subarctic plants
March 26, 2008 - I'm doing a project on subarctic things and I have to have subarctic plants in it. I need to know a few and about them. Can you help?
view the full question and answer

Liquid glucose as substitute for sunlight from New York City
December 16, 2012 - I am curious to find out whether liquid glucose can be poured as water for mung bean plants as substitute for no sunlight. Is the possible? Will a specific amount of glucose need to be used? Can liqui...
view the full question and answer

Official definition of native plants
March 06, 2008 - Does the Wildflower center have an official definition of "native" plants?
view the full question and answer

Blooms as far as the eye can see
March 06, 2008 - Why are some wildflowers capable of putting on spectacular sweeps of blooms "for as far as the eye can see" such as Indian paintbrush at Vail Pass in Colorado, or bluebonnets in the Texas hill count...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center