Flowers use iridescence to attract insects | The Star | tucson.com

Flowers use iridescence to attract insects | The Star | tucson.com

Flowers use iridescence to attract insects | The Star | tucson.com

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists at the University of Cambridge are showing a hitherto unknown quality of some common garden flowers: light shines on them as it does in soap bubbles or at the back of a compact disk.

Researchers say that the iridescence of tulips and other flowers has the function of attracting the attention of bees and other pollinating insects.

These flowers create that glow because of tiny stretch marks on their surface, in which light changes tone according to angle of incidence.

Scientists say the iridescence of flowers was formally identified first in the hibiscus (purple flowering plant) in 2009, something that researcher Silvia Vignoli says could be due to the naked eye.

"Trivial things, sometimes, everyone overlooks them," Vignoli said at the opening on July 5 of the verani exhibition ega of science at the Royal Society of London. "It is strange that after so long one can discover something new in the flowers." So far scientists have shown that bees can distinguish the iridescence of flowers and suspect that insects prefer the most striking flowers.

Opals are iridescent, as are several species of insects, like some beetles and butterflies. Iridiscence is common in birds, especially in hummingbirds.

However, until very recently the iridescence in plants was overlooked. Partly it may be because the brightness on the dark petals of certain tulips is not as striking as the blue of the Morpho butterflies, which can be seen almost a kilometer away.

p> In the case of lyatris flowers, iridescence is manifested in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, which is not visible to humans but to bees.

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