Miss Jackson if you’re nasty…

Janet Jackson’s classic “Nasty” let people know she demanded respect. Her full name in the song is Janet Privacy Control 💪. Her first name ain’t baby. But if you are nasty you can call her Miss Jackson.

If you are unsure of the reference – is that possible? – here is a video:

We have some perennials that would be saying Miss Jackson.

We have nasty flowers.

Yep – Nasty, nasty flowers.

Nyctinasty flowers to be specific.

Nyctinasty is the name for the behavior some plants exhibit of closing their flowers up at night or during dark cloudy weather. It is also the name given to plants that have flowers that open at night and close during the day. To be clear nyctinastic movements can be exhibited in any parts of a plant. We are talking here about nyctinastic flowers, but you could find plants with nyctinastic leaves (i.e. Prayer plant) as well.

While it appears no one is exactly clear on why flowers do this, there are theories about the evolutionary advantages of this type of flower movement:

  • Preventing the pollen getting heavy with dew preventing the possibility it will be too difficult for pollinators to carry.
  • Preventing the pollen from getting wet reducing the chance of fungal and bacterial growth.
  • Defending against a plant’s nocturnal predators. The flowers closing allow a better view of the ground for owls who will eat the nocturnal mammals foraging on the plants
  • Trapping pollinators inside the flower ensuring better pollination
  • Protecting the reproductive parts of the flower from temperature extremes
  • Limiting water loss
  • Limiting the entry of harmful organisms
  • Limiting access to non-pollinating insects

Some well-known examples of nyctinasty flowers are dandelions, evening primroses, tulips, poppy, crocus, spring beauty and bloodroots.

A couple of Nyctinastic flowers we grow are:

The nasty flower of Blue eyed grass – in the daytime, of course.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium ‘Lucerne’ – Blue Eyed Grass

Wine Cups

Callirhoe involucrata – Wine Cups

Nastic Movements

Nyctinasty is not the only type of nasty flowers there are. A nastic movement is the quick movement of a plant part in response to a stimulus. Thermonastic plant parts open and close in response to temperature. This is also what you are witnessing when you see rhododendron leaves curled up into tubes on a crisp winter day. There is also seisomonasty, a movement in repsonse to touch. The sensitive plant closing up when you touch it is a seismonastic response. When plants respond to light this is photonasty.

What plants in your yard are nasty?


Why Flowers Close at Night – Live Science

Flower Opening and Closure: A Review – Journal of Experimental Botany

What Do Plants Do At Night? Understanding Nyctinastic Movement

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