From an Entomologist’s Backyard
Happenings in a Monkey Flower
by Edward S. Ross on July 01, 2006
An unfertilized flower (left) has an open, mouthlike stigma—the pollen-receiving tip of the flower’s pistil (the female part). The stigma’s lower lip closes when stimulated (right), either permanently if the flower has been pollinated, or temporarily if it hasn’t. A temporary closure can be caused by touching the lower lip with a toothpick or twig.
Photo by Edward S. Ross.
A walk with Edward Ross, curator emeritus of entomology at theCalifornia Academy of Sciences, around his Mill Valley home is aninvitation into a fascinating, miniaturized world. Here, the seeminglychoreographed bits of chance and intention that make up a healthyecosystem are revealed in the blooms of the sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)and its varied insect visitors. Here, we show just a few of the manysuch interactions that Ross has captured on film over 58 years at hishillside retreat.