Friday, October 6, 2017

The Shopping Mall Effect

Economists use the term "shopping mall effect" to describe what happens when many shops are located in one place:  they draw more customers than the individual shops each would if they were scattered.  People are attracted by the opportunity to see many things at once.  People come to shop in one store and make purchases in others.  Every store benefits.

Ox-Eye Daisy
Flowering plants often use the same strategy.  Daisies and other members of the Aster family have “flowers” that are actually made up of many flowers together.  If you look closely at an ox-eye daisy you will see that the yellow center is actually around 100 tiny fertile florets.  The white “petals” are 20 white sterile florets that act as advertising for the food available at the center.

Calico Aster
Ox-eye daisies have only one flower per plant but many asters double up on the advertising by having dozens of compound flowers.  Pictured here is a calico aster.  At this time of year they are covered with bees that have been attracted by all that food in one place.

Calico asters go even further in attracting pollinators.  Instead of dropping flowers once they have been pollinated they keep them as part of the advertising scheme.  Huge masses of white and yellow – and red.  The pollinated flowers turn red in the center but are not dropped.  The result is a mass of white, red, and yellow like calico fabric.

I'm just wondering if anyone is reading this.  If you are, a comment would be appreciated.

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