Saturday, March 5, 2011

Progression Obsession-Puakenikeni

You all know how much I like watching plants grow, which, despite how it sounds, is actually more exciting than watching paint dry.  So far, I've only focused on the more dramatic changes-extreme Amaryllis growth, total color changes throughout a day, etc.  I figured that wasn't entirely fair--just because you aren't a drama queen doesn't mean you don't deserve some attention too--so I decided to turn my attention to other things in my yard.  Today, we are looking at the Puakenikeni, which, oddly enough appears in the Urban Dictionary, so I'm going to send you there to read more.  Also, I'm using this flower anatomy chart and my limited knowledge of plant reproduction for reference.  If anyone sees any glaring errors in my explanations below, please feel free to correct me.

2/20 8:11AM
Here we see a stigma surrounded by five anthers in the center of the flower. 

2/20 3:31PM
The stigma has opened up and the anthers appear to be withering.  I'm not sure if this means that fertilization has occurred or that fertilization was anticipated but never occurred.  The color has also begun to fade from cream to orange.  

2/21 2:04PM
Stigma has opened up and/or enlarged more, anthers withering further.  Insect (syrphid fly?) makes a cameo appearance.

2/22 3:52PM
Flower has gone home, taken down its hair, washed off its make-up, and put on its sweat pants.

Unfortunately, I stopped documenting things at this point because that was the end of the flower's changes.  As I was putting this post together though, I realized that I should have kept following to see what happened next.  So, I went back outside, but as far as I can tell, this particular blossom and all its accompanying parts has fallen off the tree.  Maybe this is because fertilization did not occur after all, or maybe it was more of a drama queen than I thought and as soon as the paparazzi went away, it decided it just wasn't worth the effort any more.  Thankfully, it has some neighbors who were willing to pick up where it left off.  So, we'll pick up the story with these two orange flowers, which appear to be a day or two beyond the one above.

In an effort to speed things along and complete this post today, I plucked off the flower on the left.  Here is what remains:

Here you can see the orange stigma attached to the long style, attached to the ovary.  As long as this doesn't fall off the tree, it will grow into a little green fruit like this:

Then it will turn orange, shrivel up, and eventually end up as debris on my lawn.  I don't have any pretty, ripe orange phases to show you, so we are going straight to shriveled up orange.  As far as I know the fruits are inedible.  I don't know if they are poisonous or simply not worth eating, but as much as I love you all, I'm not willing to do a taste test to find out.  

So, there you have it, the life cycle of a Puakenikeni flower. 

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