Finding Tiny Flowers

Most of the plants people are familiar with have flowers of one kind or another. Gardeners love to plant those with big, showy flowers. Tiny flowers are overlooked.

My ongoing botany project finds and looks at those tiny flowers. They are proving a great challenge.

Spotting these miniscule flowers is difficult. I have to stop and search the plant to find them.

grasses have tiny flowers

Grasses do have tiny flowers. The noticeable ones have rectangular anthers hanging down from the spike of female flowers.

Some of these flowers are little more than a pistil and stamens. Those of grasses and sedges are wind pollinated and need no petals. The amaranths are wind pollinated too.

Others have petals or sepals or both. These are tiny, usually white. The entire flower is barely a sixteenth of an inch across. Gnats pollinate these.

white verbena tiny flowers

White verbena flowers are tiny flowers. These appear a few at a time on a tall spike. That made this plant with tiny flowers easier to identify. One of the biggest difficulties with tiny flowers is finding out what their name is. Guide books rarely have tiny flowers in them as most people never notice them. Finding the name is often a matter of luck.

Size matters to a camera.

For my botany project I take several pictures of each plant. One is of the plant itself. No size problem.

The tops and bottoms of the leaves are normally not a problem. These are an inch or more long. Some are thread like so both sides look the same requiring a single picture.

decumbent euphorb flower

This member of the Euphorb family spreads its red stems and opposite green leaves across the ground. The seed pod is the typical one for this family. There are two flowers. The top one has white petals and stamens in it. Just below this one is another with a pistil and no petals. this one will become a fruit with seeds.

Stems can be a problem. Some are thin. Others are short. Many are decumbent or flat on the ground. Auto focus prefers gravel, dirt, dead leaves to stems.

Tiny flowers are another matter. I need a high resolution, in focus, two inch tall picture of a flower less than an eighth of an inch across. My camera considers this impossible.

I am determined.

more tiny flowers on an euphorb

Notice the seed pod. That tags this erect plant as another Euphorb. Both of these flowers are staminate. When it ripens, the seed pod turns brown and stands up straight to shoot out its seeds.

Since I want both the front and side to back views of the flower, I have leeway, if I can find two flowers close together and arranged to give both views. This requires careful searching and evaluating of all the flowers on the plant.

When such an arrangement is not found, I steady the camera on the ground as close to the flower as I can. Tripods won’t help with this. Then I begin focusing for this picture. Apply a little zoom for a closer picture. Apply a little more for another picture. Repeat this until the camera refuses to focus anymore. Checking the play back for focus is imperative.

The final test of success or failure comes on the computer. If one of the pictures meets the criteria, I celebrate. Otherwise I grab the camera and go out to try again.

The real success is seeing how pretty these tiny flowers often are.