The Bachelor's Button
beautiful garden flower gives
a variation in form from other composites when studied according to
Lesson CXXXV. This valued garden
flower came to us from Europe and it
sometimes escapes cultivation and
runs wild in a gentle way. We call
it bachelor's button; but in Europe
it is called the cornflower, and under
this name it found its way into literature. None of the flowers that live
in families repays close study better
than does the bachelor's button.
The ray-flowers are tubular but they
do not have banners. Their tubes
flare open like trumpets, and they are
indeed color trumpets heralding to
the insect world that there is nectar
for the probing and pollen for exchange. Looked at from above, the
ray-flowers do not seem tubular;
from the sides, they show as uneven-mouthed trumpets with lobed edges;
but though we search each trumpet
to its slender depths we can find no
pistils. These ray-flowers have no
duty in the way of maturing seeds.
In some varieties the ray-flowers are
white, and in others they are blue
and purple. They vary in number
from 7 to 14, or more.
A bachelor's button.
Note the trumpet-shape of the ray-flowers.
Photo by Cyrus Crosby.
The disk-flowers have a long
corolla-tube, which is white and
delicately lobed and is enlarged
toward the upper end to a purple
bulb with five, long, slender lobes.
The anther-tube is purplish black,
and is bent into almost a hook, the
tip opening toward the middle
of the flower-head. The
pollen is glistening white tinged with yellow, and
looks very pretty as it bursts out from the dark tubes.
The purple stigma first appears with its tips close
together, but with a pollen brush just below it; later it opens
into a short Y. The buds at the center of the flower are
bent hook-shaped over the center of the flower-head. The
involucral bracts or "shingles" are very pretty, each one
ornamented with a scaly fringe; they form a long, elegantly
shaped base to the flower-head. After the flowers have gone
and the seeds have ripened, these bracts flare open, making a
wide-mouthed urn from which the ripened seeds are shaken by the winds; and
after the seeds are gone,
the white fuzz of their
empty cases remains at
the bottom of the urn.
The seed is plump and
shining, with a short
fringe of pappus around
the top and a contracted
place at one side near
the base where it grew
fast to the receptacle;
for these seeds are not set
on end, as are those of
the sunflower. The short
pappus is hardly sufficient to buoy up the seed,
and yet undoubtedly
aids it to make a flying
jump with the passing
Stigma open and showing pollen-brush below. Enlarged.
The Bachelor's Button
Each bachelor's button
is made up of many
little flowers which may
be studied by the outline
given in Lesson CXXXV.