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This image of S. citrullifolium flower was submitted by Casper van der Kooi. The vast majority of flowers has cone-shaped (as in the picture) or dome-shaped epidermal cells. These curvy surfaces are probably beneficial to scatter light in a wide angular space, thereby increasing the flower’s visibility to pollinators.

Casper is a research fellow at the University of Groningen where he studies how flowers get their colours and how those colours evolved in the eyes of the animals that see them. In order for flowering plants to reproduce, their flowers need to be attractive to pollinators, but at the same time be unattractive to other animals, maintain an optimal temperature and maximise reproductive output. He uses biophysics to study the optical and thermal properties of flowers and contextualises it within an evolutionary framework of animal vision and reproductive biology.

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Updated on 6 May 2021