With rewards of sugary nectar, the sensory appeal of the reproductive structures of flowering plants attract pollinator bees, hoverflies, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds, bats and occassionally other small mammals.
Some plants ‘imitate’ other species. Australia’s Hammer orchids mimic female Thynnid wasps in appearance and scent—seducing male wasps looking to mate, and so be pollinated.
Is it surprising that flowers often serve as proxies for human affection and desire? Examples include Polynesian leis and St Valentine’s Day red roses. In Japan and elsewhere, blue forget-me-nots signify true love. Also in Japan, peony flowers (genus, Pæonia) are masculine motifs in traditional tattoos, or irezumi.
I grew peonies when I lived in Tasmania. For me, their fragile but luxurious blooms of subtle and bold colours and delicate scent exude pleasure, sensuality, and passion. When I see flowers in general, and peonies in particular, I see a little more than just their beauty. My next exhibition expresses an indulgence in the lustiness of Pæonia, which opens as part of the 2014 South Australian Living Artists festival Friday 18 July at Atkins Technicolour, 89 Fullarton Rd, Kent Town.