australian red beech

We saw this lovely tree on the shoreline at Cape Tribulation. The flowers last just a day before their petals fall. I took this particular photo because I liked the way the fallen petals exposed the colourful reproductive structures – I’m always on the lookout for images to use in my lectures.

red beech flower.JPG

This reminds me that Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus, wrote a long poem about plants which talked about their reproductive features in what was probably regarded as fairly salacious in its time. Take this verse, for example (the words in capitals are genus names):

"With vain desires the pensive ALCEA burns/And, like sad ELOISA, loves and mourns./The freckled IRIS owns a fiercer flame,/And three unjealous husbands wed the dame./CUPRESSUS dark disdains his dusky bride,/One dome contains them, but two beds divide."

Erasmus’ metaphors makeit sound as if he’s talking about all sorts of hanky-panky – but under it all he’s talking about the arrangement of stamens & carpels & how their number & arrangement relates to plant taxonomy a la Linnaeus. I fear my lectures are quite staid by comparison!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *