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SCV Outdoor Report: Colorful Veins

By Wendy Langhans

Take a look at the back of your hands.  Do you see the network of blue-colored veins, carrying blood back to your heart?  But did you know that flower petals also have veins?


If our veins form a visible spidery pattern, we often schedule a VISIT TO our doctor.  But when the veins on a flower petal are visible, the result is often a VISIT FROM a bee.  Let’s take a closer look at several of our local wildflowers, the snapdragons, to see what I mean.




Bees are one of the main pollinators of snapdragons, because they have sufficient weight and muscle to open, enter and exit the flower blossom.  To see a video of a bee in action, click here.

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According to a recent article in ScienceDaily, researchers in the UK measured the foraging patterns of bumblebees on various varieties of snapdragons.  They found that red blossoms and blossoms with visible veins were “visited significantly more frequently than white or pink. More flowers were visited per plant too.”




Visible floral veins are a common pattern in nature.  That’s because “Stripes provide a visual guide for pollinators, directing them to the central landing platform and the entrance to the flower where the nectar and pollen can be found.”  And the flower benefits because cross-pollination occurs.


These colorful floral veins are created by the interaction of two genetic signals.  According to research from New Zealand, “We found that one signal comes from the veins of the petals and one from the skin of the petals, the epidermis. Where these signals intersect, the production of red anthocyanin pigments is induced.”  Anthocyanin pigments are what gives fruits and vegetables their red, purple and blue colors.


So in other words, where we see “unsightly veins” as an affront to human vanity, bees see colorful floral veins as a useful roadmap to finding food.  And where we apply pigment to our lips and cheeks to enhance our looks, snapdragons apply pigment their veins to ensure that the nectar and pollen they produce is not produced in vain.




Upcoming Outdoor Events:


Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, March 7, 14, 21 & 28.

Saturday mornings, March 10 & 24.


Saturday, March 17 18, 8-10 AM.  Up with the birds. Check out the unique migratory birds as they travel north with our in-house birder, Volunteer Naturalist Roger.  Beginners are welcome on this easy walk. Bring binoculars. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot.  For a map and directions, click here.


Sunday, March, 10 AM – 12 PM.  A Celebration of Spring Wildflowers.  Towsley Canyon is the perfet place to see this year’s splendid wildflower display.  Revel in the beautiful colors of spring. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot.  For a map and directions, click here.




You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to


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SCV Outdoor Report: Colorful Veins

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