The first flowers of spring are often white or yellow because of who pollinates them. The majority of 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. The 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 often misidentified as bees.
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, 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.
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
Further reading on donnallong.com
Early Spring Butterflies
Good Books on Pollinators and Pollinator Syndromes (on Amazon.com)
Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants by Heather Holm (excellent book)