“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Species of foxglove appear on both sides of the Atlantic. I was familiar with this poisonous weed when I was growing up in England. The plants are abundant in Washington State also. Although every part of the plant is poisonous, it is a source of the useful drug group digitalis, used in the treatment of heart complaints.
It is the pollination of foxgloves that fascinates me. In Britain, the foxglove is often, though not exclusively, pollinated by large bumble bees. These big, cuddly-looking bees fly into the bowl-shaped flowers, and extract the nectar, with a short burst of ultrasonic buzzing, before flying off, coated in pollen, to another flower.
One BBC documentary that I watched suggested that the foxglove plant “does not want the bee to visit every flower on the one plant, before pollinating another plant, so it has evolved a mechanism to prevent this.” What happens is that, of the cascade of flowers, the lower flowers open first, before the upper flowers are even mature. Flower opening proceeds step-wise upwards, and when the top flower is open, the lower ones are wilting. My issue with the documentary is that it is impossible for the plant to “want” anything. A so-called blind evolutionary purpose cannot be moving towards a desirable goal of differential pollination. Of course, evolution is contrary to the Bible’s account of origins. This differential pollination is better explained as a design feature consistent with God having made plants, as He stated, on Day Three of Creation.
Prayer: When we see the way that You have created such things as foxgloves and watch how they are pollinated by bees, we stand in awe, Lord God, at Your greatness and Your power. Amen.
Ref: Encyclopӕdia Britannica, < https://www.britannica.com/plant/foxglove >, accessed 7/25/2017. Image: Andre Engels, License: Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Unported.
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