"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Black-Eyed and Brown-Eyed Susans (2 of 2)

Black-Eyed and Brown-Eyed Susans (2 of 2)

From Kingdom of Plants: A Journey Through Their Evolution by Will Benson:

“Behavioural studies in the twenty-first century have sought to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms by which bees forage. We know now that they do not ‘see’ shapes or objects but instead detect parameters and recognise places, and by using their 300-degree vision they are able to triangulate on just a few clues in order to find food. The patterns that we see in the flowers around us have evolved to play to such perception, and as our understanding of both plant and pollinator increases we are able to gradually unfold more details of the complex relationships that have formed between them….

“The yellow and black of the Rudbeckia petals is a useful clue to help us understand how bees respond to the colour signals from plants, as it tells us that the contrast between colours plays a significant role. There appears to be yet more evidence for the importance of this colour contrast, in the way that non-floral parts of the plant are seen, or not seen, by bees. As the green parts of a plant must be able to absorb light from the sun in order to photosynthesise, much of the UV light that falls on the leaves and stem is absorbed by pigments such as flavanoids and chlorophyll. As a result, for an animal who sees predominantly in the UV region of the spectrum, green vegetation appears almost black. The effect of this is that the UV-reflecting parts of flowers are heightened by the black background, making them more obvious to certain pollinators.”


This is the second of two posts featuring a mix of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and Brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba) from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. The first post is Black-Eyed and Brown-Eyed Susans (1 of 2).

Thanks for taking a look!


    1. Dale

      Thanks! That explanation of how bees perceive color fascinated me too, especially the part about how they see green as black. I couldn’t help wonder — since I so often make dark or pitch-black backgrounds for my flower photos — could it be, that in a previous life, I was a bee?

      Thanks for the comment!

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