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

Clarification for botanical (Latin) names for Herbertia
June 17, 2010 - I am looking for a clarification of scientific names. In the classic wildflower book 'Wildflowers of Texas' the author, Geyata Ajilvsgi, attributes the plant Herbertia with the name Alophia drummon...
view the full question and answer

Have invasive plants no useful purpose from Anchorage AK
September 03, 2011 - Does the definition of invasive plants include that the plant has no useful purpose? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Can I grow wild rice in green house conditions?
November 17, 2010 - Can I grow Zizania aquatica (wild rice) in green house conditions?
view the full question and answer

Consumption of carbon dioxide from South Korea
December 07, 2011 - I am curious about what flowers consume CO2 for growing (especially 1-year life flower). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
December 27, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an inju...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center