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  • Strategy

Flower's pattern attracts/deters insects: Aaron's beard


Large yellow flower of St John's Wort / Ciar / LicensePD - Public Domain

Markings on flowers help draw pollinators and at the same time discourage insect herbivores by containing ultraviolet pigments.

"Two categories of pigments, flavonoids and dearomatized isoprenylated phloroglucinols (DIPs), are responsible for the UV demarcations of this flower. Flavonoids had been shown previously to function as floral UV pigments, but DIPs had not been demonstrated to serve in that capacity. We found the DIPs to be present in high concentration in the anthers and ovarian wall of the flower, suggesting that the compounds also serve in defense. Indeed, feeding tests done with one of the DIPs (hypercalin A) showed the compound to be deterrent and toxic to a caterpillar (Utetheisa ornatrix). The possibility that floral UV pigments fulfill both a visual and a defensive function had not previously been contemplated." (Gronquist et al. 2001:13745)
About the inspiring organism
Med_601pxhypericum_spp_4 Hypericum calycinum
Hypericum calycinum L.
Common name: Aaron's beard

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Light capture and reflectance, ultraviolet water purification, reflectance coatings, mirrors, crystal materials, gel imaging, ultraviolet products, sterility, antibacterial, photography, glass, detection sensors and monitors, illumination, laboratory equipment and research, lice control, criminology investigation, fraud detection, leak detection, UV curable acrylic resin.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Energy, Lighting, Agriculture, Horticulture, Manufacturing, Dentistry

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
Thomas Eisner
Cornell University
Gronquist, M.; Bezzerides, A.; Attygalle, A.; Meinwald, J.; Eisner, M.; Eisner, T. 2001. Attractive and defensive functions of the ultraviolet pigments of a flower (Hypericum calycinum). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 98(24): 13745-13750.
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over 6 years ago
Thanks to Duarte Miguel Prazeres for finding and contributing this photo.
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