An ode to flowers

An ode to flowers
Burt Baldwin - 05/27/2021

A hundred million years ago the only living plants that existed on the planet survived near areas of water.  These plants were mostly ferns and mosses.  Somewhere near the end of the Age of Reptiles a biological revolution took place.  It was marked by the emergence of the angiosperms ... the flowering plants. In a sense, flowers changed the face of the Earth.  Without flowering plants, the world we know would not have existed and humankind would never have appeared.

The Jurassic world was dominated by spore-bearing plants known as gymnosperms. The animals that lived during those times were largely cold blooded, and most of those creatures consumed ferns, cycads, conifers and ginkgos. Many of those plants still exist today and are labeled as some of the oldest species of plants on the planet.  Sauropods, those long-necked lumbering dinosaurs, consumed vast amounts of  gymnosperms that dominated the landscape. Suddenly, and for reasons still not discovered, angiosperms began to appear. Somehow, plants found a way through their evolutionary process to create what we know as seeds.  Through this process those innovative plants began to develop ways to propagate over wide regions by creating attractive blossoms and seeds.  Somehow they adapted to nature’s elements. To this day, most plant seeds are dispersed by the wind.  The dandelion’s delicate parachute-like seeds are a wonder to examine. In time, some plants adapted seeds that could be carried off by animals. There are numerous types of sticky burrs that are easily attached to passing creatures. The ability of angiosperms to evolve had created the greatest diversity of life on this planet. Flowering plants no longer were bound by watery margins but could now advance over the most extreme areas of the Earth, from deserts to the highest mountain ranges.

 I’m reminded that without the gift of flowering angiosperms there would not be the magnificent diversity of life that we all enjoy. The crocuses pushing to the surface with the warming of days and the appearance of bees circling and pollinating the dandelions. 

As I look down at the dandelions' soft yellow faces, I am reminded that without flowering plants there would not be various spectrums of color that decorate the land. It is their emergence that has changed the face of the planet and fostered a cornucopia of floral wonders for all of us to enjoy.

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