Love is in the air at the National Museum of Natural History! Our scientists are helping species look for love in this series of “dating profiles” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Will #NMNHcupid help them find their one and only?
Image by Dan Tenaglia, via MissouriPlants.com
Screen name: StarryNight
Species: Silene stellata
Sex: hermaphrodite, protandrous (anthers dehisce before stigmas become receptive)
City: you can find me in the eastern United States
Height: 2-3 feet. I’m usually bigger at meadows and much smaller within closed canopy forests.
Body Type: Forb/herb
I’m a long lived perennial herb with white flowers and leaves in whorls of four. I’m part of the pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). I enjoy hanging out both in forests and open meadows. I prefer nocturnal pollinators as my partners. Although, bees like to visit me during the morning, I only release my pollen at night when nocturnal moths come visit me. In addition, I stop producing scent after I get pollinated. One date per flower is enough.
The first thing people usually notice about me
My white fringed petals.
On a typical Friday night
During the months of June to September I’m out searching for potential dates. In fact, I produce most of my scent and nectar at dusk to be attractive.
I think a lot about
-Why my other common name is Widow's Frill.
-How wonderful the world would be if deer weren’t that abundant! (Deer really like to eat me)
I’m looking for
The most private thing I’m willing to share
Hadena ectypa female moths oviposit on my flowers and later, their larvae feed on my flowers and fruits. I tolerate this behavior as long as there are plenty of other Silene stellata friends around me to ensure high pollen deposition and high seed set. If there aren’t enough S. stellata individuals close by, then the cost-benefit between seed predation by the H. ectypa moth larvae and pollination by the adults result in negative reproductive fitness for me.
By Carolina Diller, Predoctural Fellow from University of Maryland, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History