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. I’ve started to see the similarity between hydrangeas and hellebores and I’m sure I’d never have made the connection before.

  1. Beautiful. I will always look at hydrangeas a little more closely. My grandmother had beautiful hydrangeas and every time I see one, I think of her.

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