Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
13 ratings

Saturday - July 14, 2007

From: boston, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Percentage of worlds flowers of each color
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

What percentage of the world's flowers are blue? red? white? yellow?

ANSWER:

Your question was thought-provoking. The simple answer is that there is no simple answer to your question. The reason why your question cannot be answered precisely is that there are too many variables involved that are undefined by the question itself. For example, there are actually few flowers that bear truly blue flowers. Most flowers considered to be blue are actually some shade of purple or lavender. Likewise, many pink, purple or maroon flowers are often said to be red -- not by everyone, mind you, but by some. So red for me may not be red for you. Some flowers may be blue to some and red to others. There are yellowish shades of white and whitish shades of yellow; all are open to interpretation. Many flowers are multi-colored. Some species feature flowers that change in color as they age. Other plants bear flowers of different colors on the same plant.

There is a more practical reason your question can't be answered, though. No one has surveyed all of the world's flowers. All of the world's plant species haven't even been discovered and named yet. Further, flower color statistics have not compiled anywhere for the majority of the earth's plant species. We know of no central repository of flower color information. Even our own database, which focuses solely on the plant species native to North America, is a work in progress and lacks flower color data for many of our own species.

You didn't ask, but there are other very common flower colors in nature. Green may actually be the most common flower color. There are many plants, including most trees, that bear flowers mostly green in color. Likewise, brown and shades of brown are not uncommon colors. Pink and various shades of pink are very common.

If we had to rank the four colors you asked about in order from most common to least, we would guess -- and we emphasize guess, here -- that they would line up like this: 1. white, 2. yellow, 3. blue, 4. red.

 

More General Botany Questions

How many plant species are in Maryland
October 31, 2008 - About how many plant species are there in Maryland?
view the full question and answer

Gardening books for Austin and Central Texas
June 09, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for a book for my wife. She is a beginning gardener here in Austin. Do you know of an ideal book or two that covers vegetable gardening and gardening in general in Austin/Central Tex...
view the full question and answer

Genetics of Anemone berlandieri flower colors
December 01, 2010 - Anemone heterophylla or Anemone berlandieri, Genetics. Is the variation in the flower color due to Genetic Incomplete dominance or Codominance? The same codominance seen in carnations.
view the full question and answer

Kerrville Soil for Vegetables
May 03, 2012 - We are moving to our vacation home in Kerrville, TX and plan on putting in a vegetable garden on the sunny north side of our house. I'm assuming that your answer to the person inquiring about "soil...
view the full question and answer

Compare Natives to Lawn for Carbon Footprint Benefits in Durham, New Hampshire
September 22, 2010 - Are there carbon sequestration rate tables for turf (lawn) and bushes, shrubs, trees? I want to compare the carbon footprint benefit of lawn versus the same area put into native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.