The First Flowers of Spring and Attracting Pollinators
The first flowers of spring are often white or yellow because of who pollinates them. Most of the early spring pollinators are flies. Flies lack color vision, meaning they can’t see scores of colors the way we do.
White and yellow reflect plenty of light. White and yellow are reflected as very light “colors” against the green background of leaves of trees, shrubs, grasses, etc. All that green may just look dark and indistinguishable to flies.
Flies will visit a range of colors, but they visit white and yellow flowers the most. Flies are the most frequent visitors to flowers and are misidentified as bees.
First Flowers of Spring Characteristics
Early spring blooming flowers in alpine meadows are often white or yellow. These flowers often have an open-shape. The flower can have a saucer or bowl shape. These open shapes allow a wide range of pollinators to access the plant’s pollen, nectar, resin, and oil.
The pollinators with special features such as long tongues, heavyweight, and the ability to hover, can visit these flowers just like unspecialized pollinators can.
And in early spring there are not many pollinating insects or birds around. A flower will take what she can get.
First Flowers of Spring: Key Features
To recount: White or Yellow Spring Flowers
- are highly reflective of light and appear bright in the landscape
- often have open shapes to be available to any pollinator that might be around in early spring
More Posts on Pollination and Spring Flowers
My primary resource for the article came from the book, “The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors” by Ernest Williams, Jr. Oxford University Press, 2005. (Amazon.com affiliate link)
On page 159 in a section entitled, “8.11 White and Yellow Meadows”, he writes: “In contrast to the diversity of floral color and shape seen in midsummer, white and yellow saucer-shaped flowers dominate alpine meadows soon after snowmelt. Because flowers function to attract pollinators, the open shapes and absence of blues and pinks in early spring suggest that the early pollinators are small and attracted to the most reflective flowers.”
Further Information on Pollinators and Pollinator Syndromes
These are Amazon.com affiliate links, of which I am an affiliate and receive small fees which support this blog.
Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants by Heather Holm (excellent book)