Thursday, April 19, 2012

Moonflower Vine Opening

From what I've heard, sitting and watching the grass grow is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Luckily though, sitting and watching a Moonflower vine open is much more exciting!

You can tell when a flower is about to open because it goes from this:

 To this:

 And, finally, to this in about three days' time:

Then you go out to run some errands, come home, and find that it has turned into this

So, the next time you see a bud getting ready to open, you sit your happy self down in front of it with a camera and stare at it until it opens up. No pressure. Maybe you have a glass of wine so the flower doesn't feel like it's your only entertainment. Or a beer. I'm just sayin'.
You can see that it starts out all tightly closed at 4:00PM

By 4:12, it's starting to crack open just a tiny bit.

4:35-It's really starting to look like something might be happening.

4:40-Even the aphids are getting excited and moving in for a closer look!

4:43-Ooh! Hello?

4:55PM KA-BAM!

Hey! Wait a minute! What happened between 4:43 and 4:55? Well, from 4:49 to 5:53 I shot video, of course! I trimmed it back so you don't have to watch the whole four minutes (who has that kind of time??) but otherwise, the video hasn't been altered-this is all real-time footage, no time-lapse or anything.

You can see that it was a little bit breezy when I was filming this, but at about 0:12 you can see the flower start to do this sort of waggly dance that lasts about 5-6 seconds before it really begins to unfurl. I have other video (yes, I'm that big of a dork) that shows the same thing happening in other Moonflowers on other days, so I'm pretty sure this is the flower moving on its own, not because of the wind. Cool!


I have either photos or video of seven flowers opening, four on one plant and three on another. The four that opened on the one plant all opened between 4:49PM and 5:27PM (within 38 minutes of each other but on different days)--pretty consistent. The other three opened between 6:20PM and 7:21PM, all on the same day (still within nearly an hour of each other, but much later than the other four and they unfurled more slowly). There are several factors that could have contributed, so I'm not sure why the difference, but here are some possible causes:
  • The four early-openers are in a tall, deep container; and the three later-openers are in a low, shallow container.
  • The four early-openers opened on fairly sunny days. The three others opened on a cloudier day.
  • The late openers also opened more slowly. I don't know if this is because there were three of them opening on one plant at one time, and so more energy was needed to get all three open, or if this had something to do with it being darker when they opened, both because it was a cloudier day and because by the time they opened it was dark.

So, there you have it. Now you all know what a flower nerd I really am...of course, if you made it this far, I'm assuming I'm among friends, so thanks for being nerdy with me!

If you want to see more videos of plants doing what they do, visit Indiana University's Plants-In-Motion, and click on the different Movie Categories on the left-hand side of the screen.



7 comments:

Meryl said...

I love moonflowers, but I've never gotten the chance to sit and watch one open like this. It's beautiful!

Dreamybee said...

I hope you get the chance one day-they make for great moon garden plants (all white flowers/foliage and/or night-blooming plants) and I bet once the baby gets older, he would be excited to sit and watch one open. Now you know the signs to look for, you could time it so that he would only have to sit still for a minute or two! :)

Malar said...

What a great shot! I never have chance to see flowers blooming too!
This post remind me to slow down and enjoy nature! ;)
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Dreamybee said...

Malar-Thank you! Yes, there are so many other things that I could have been doing, but it was nice to just pull up a chair with the intntion to sit and watch nature for a little while.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

I've never heard of a moonflower before, VERY COOL!

Thank you for sharing.

Dreamybee said...

Hi Elizabeth-They're a lot like the morning glory on your Cre8ive Housewife blog-just bigger, white and it opens at night instead of in the morning. LOL-so maybe not "a lot" like the morning glories! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Wendy said...

sooooo cool.