Queen Anne’s Lace: Why the Purple?

Posted by on Oct 1, 2020 in flowers, summer, Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

A well-named flower. It’s hard not to think of lace as soon as you lay eyes on the exquisite complexity of this flower head. I say flower head because that lovely lace doily is composed of an intricate network of tiny white flowers. All of them white except for that one deep purple flower in the middle of most–but mysteriously, not all–Queen Anne’s Lace flowers.queen annes lace center

It’s a flower full of mysteries. Who was Queen Anne, for one. No one knows who the monarch referred to. Folklore is as hard to pin down as a summer breeze. Whoever she was, the purple flower in the center is meant to symbolize a drop of blood where she pricked her finger while making that lovely lace. Or it’s an amethyst wrapped up in her lace handkerchief.

But the greatest mystery of all is the botanical one: what is the purpose of the purple flower?

The answer is: no one knows.

The purple flower serves no easily discernable purpose. It’s sterile, and so doesn’t produce seeds. Why one vivid flower in the center of the white? Why one lone flower, stuck in the middle like a bulls-eye.

Maybe, that’s exactly what it is. A bulls-eye. Pollinators such as honey bees, tend to spiral outwards, gathering nectar, spreading pollen as the go. Perhaps the easily visible purple flower is the flower’s way of guiding the pollinator in for a landing. like a guy waving a bright flag to signal an incoming plane. land here! Right in the middle. The as the bee spirals outwards it will contact the maximum number of flowers before taking off again.

Or maybe it is an amethyst in a lace handkerchief.

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