The secret blue halos of flowers

The natural world never fails to blow our minds, and we are discovering new things about it every day. And, in the natural world, there are few things that have as much beauty, and provide as much scope for scientific study as flowers. Sure, we might be in the middle of winter, but that doesn’t change the fact that flowers play a big role in the gardens of the world. And, now is the perfect time to learn more about them in preparation for the warmer seasons.

One of the biggest curiosities about the flower world is the lack of truly blue flowers. Sure, the rhyme might tell us that violets are blue, but they aren’t really. In fact, plant breeders have been working for years to try to create the ultimate, stunning blue plants, but with varying degrees of success. However, while blue flowers might be hard to find, there are a lot of flowers that have a blue halo at their base that is worth checking out.

What is it?

Some blooms and breeds of flower have distinctive blue rings at the base of the petals – these are often known as halos, and they are difficult for humans to detect. More often than not, we won’t even notice these blue halos, unless the flower petals in question are very dark. In the majority of cases, they are so small, or faint, that we would need special equipment to help us see them, even if we know they are there. Botanists have discovered these halos fairly recently and found they are much more commonplace than they might first have seemed.

Different species

Usually, with things like this, you would think the halo would be restricted to one type of flower, but the opposite was actually true. In fact, these halos have been found in a multitude of different species of flowers, but, they have also varied in appearance. Cambridge University conducted studies and found that the halos were all the same color, but some of them were much stronger than others. They also discovered that the microscopic ridges present on the flowers varied in height, width, and spacing, which scatters blue light across the petals and makes the halos.

Remember the bees!

We all know that bees and flowers have a relationship that is incredibly codependent, and these blue halos play a role in that. We know that bees can see these halos; in fact, they might even be a way of the flowers communicating with the bees. In fact, it is proven that bumblebees can always see the halos, no matter the size or color of the flower. It could even be the case that bees are more attracted to a flower with a blue halo, and thus are more likely to want to pollinate – though this is merely conjecture.

These amazing halos are a pretty cool indicator of how color and visual stimulation play a big role in the natural world. These halos have clearly been around for some time, but we haven’t noticed them until recently. And this leads us to question how many other secrets flowers might be hiding that we are on the cusp of discovering.