Flowers or modified sepals – who knew?

Hydrangea flower

My blog (like many others) is mostly a collection of ‘Ooh, shiny!’ moments. That’s Andrea’s term for “diversions, distractions and delightful detours”. Things that make me pause to pay more attention that I photograph and share, hoping you’ll be willing to pause for them too.

Like these hydrangea flowers. I’m not talking about the pink bits we think of as petals that are, technically, modified sepals, but the tiny blue flowers I hadn’t really noticed until they were pointed out. While the modified sepals (a catchy term – I can’t think why it never caught on) are long lasting, the small flowers only open briefly. Even more of a reason for us to miss them.

Lacecap hydrangeas, such as the star striped beauty below, have a cluster of small flowers in the middle, with a few more in the centre of the florets that seem to float on their outer edges.

Hydrangea flower in a flower

The strange thing is, once we’ve seen them, our perspective changes. I wonder how long it will be before I find myself face to face with a hydrangea plant in full bloom again without taking a moment to look for the tiny flowers I’ve overlooked for so long? And now I see the colourful sepals for what they are: nature’s advertisement hoardings that call out “Look, shiny!” to draw in pollinators who might otherwise pass on by.

Shared for this week’s photo challenge, with thanks to my sweetheart who pointed the true flowers out.

37 Replies to “Flowers or modified sepals – who knew?”

  1. An excellent thought with which to start the Sabbath: look harder. I am accomplished at not noticing the obvious, so I can’t begin to imagine what I’m missing in the not-obvious. Thank you!

  2. Nah I think those grow on Mars 🙂 ! However I will try and notice if these foreign flowers have is able to adapt to modified sepals on earth. Quite amazing info and photos

    1. I have one in a pot that leads me a dance – it’s probably trying to hint that it really ought to be in something a bit bigger.

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