Bright blue in the morning sunshine which sparkles across the dew-wet marsh, the flowers of the pickerelweeds open to their fullest beauty. The flower is almost orchid-like, yet is related to the water hyacinch of Florida (Eichhornia). The petals are bright lavender-blue accented by two yellow spots near the opening of the flower. Since blue apparently is the color most attractive to bees, the yellow spots must be guideposts to lead the bees to the nectar and, incidentally, to the stamens and pistils. Pickerelweed flowers have three types of stamens and pistils, long, medium, and short each kind found in different flowers scattered through the swamp. It was proved by Charles Darwin, through exhaustive experiments, that pollen from long stamens must fertilize long pistils, just as pollen from medium or short stamens must fertilize medium or short pistils. As the bee enters the flower of the pickerelweed the pollen from each type of stamen, whichever may be in that particular flower, touches the head, chest, or abdomen of the bee. As the bee enters other flowers, the long, medium, or short pistils touch whichever spot of pollen came from the long, medium, or short stamens: in this way the mos1 efficient production of healthy seeds is made possible.
Pontederia cordata L.
Pickerelweed flowers are at their best early in the day. By afternoon the delicate petals lave curled up and are purplish and dull, are not blue and bright. The pickerelweed stalks still have a look of blue-ness but it has none of that sparkle of the morning blue, when the redwings and marsh wrens are all singing madly in the sunshine and the white egrets, up from the south, fly on wings of unearthly white across a morning sky.