often thus punctured; and when this happens, honeybees take advantage of such opportunities to obtain the nectar. With a little experience honeybees readily recognize flowers which are of no benefit to them, and thereafter pass them by unheeded; yet every season at times they vainly seek to reach the nectar of the larkspur, the nasturtium, and the sweet William.
Many pinks, primroses, milkweeds, orchids, and species of phlox are adapted to butterflies. In the Alps in Switzerland Mueller lists 19 butterfly-flowers. But butterflies visit a great variety of other flowers, and show a preference for flower-clusters which are level-topped, or flat, like boneset.
Hawk-moth flowers are usually yellow or white, since red and blue colors are not easily seen in darkness, and open in the evening when they become sweet-scented, as the evening primrose, various species of catchfly, bouncing bet, the garden honeysuckle, night-blooming tobacco, the Jamestown weed, several white lilies and gentians, the sweet-scented Gardenia, and a number of white or greenish-white orchids. There is in Madagascar an orchid with a slender green nectary 11 inches in length, which is pollinated by a moth with a tongue of equal length. Clearly such a unique flower can never be of value to honeybees. In some instances, however, the tubes fill up with nectar so that a part of it becomes accessible.
The fly-flowers are a peculiar group, often possessing nauseous or unpleasant odors and lurid colors. For the unwary and less specialized families of flies there are pitfall-flowers, prison-flowers, pinch-trap-flowers, and flowers with deceptive odors and colors. Such are Jack-in-the-pulpit, various aroids, Dutchman’s pipe, and some milkweeds. The carrion-flower, a graceful vine with smilax-like leaves, common in damp thickets, and the skunk cabbage of the swamps, are examples of flowers with indoloid or nauseous odors. But the honeybee, although it is supposed to avoid repulsive odors, occasionally visits the skunk cabbage to obtain pollen for brood-rearing in early spring. Many flies, however, as the hover or Syrphid flies, visit the same flowers as do bees, so far as they are accessible to them.
Bird-flowers are few in number in this country; but in South America they are very abundant and are pollinated by humming-birds, of which there are more than 400 species described. In Brazil they are on the wing throughout the entire year and visit most flowers. The many bird-flowers of Africa and India are visited by sun-birds, as there are no humming-birds in these regions, while those of Australia depend on honey-suckers. In Europe there are no birds which visit flowers for nectar, and consequently there are no native bird-flowers. The floral tubes of bird-flowers are frequently two or more inches long, so that the nectar is far beyond the reach of honeybees. Occasionally a too adventurous bee attempts to push its way through one of these slender tubes, and, becoming wedged within its narrow walls, perishes in sight of the sweet spoil. Bird-flowers are usually scarlet or crimson in color.
An extended description of these different groups of flowers will be found in the author’s book “The Flower and the Bee: Plant Life and Pollination.’’