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Scientific Text Analysis (Grade 10)

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Scientific Text Analysis


"If blue is the favorite color of bees, and if bees have so much to do with the origin of flowers, how is it that there are so few blue ones? I believe the explanation to be that all blue flowers have descended from ancestors in which the flowers were green; or, to speak more precisely, in which the leaves surrounding the stamens and pistil were green; and that they have passed through stages of white or yellow, and generally red, before becoming blue." - Sir John Lubbock in "Ants, Bees, and Wasps."

(Commelina Virginica) Spiderwort family
Flowers - Blue, 1 in. broad or less, irregular, grouped at end of stem, and upheld by long leaf-like bracts. Calyx of 3 unequal sepals; 3 petals, 1 inconspicuous, 2 showy, rounded. Perfect stamens 3; the anther of 1 incurved stamen largest; 3 insignificant and sterile stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Fleshy, smooth, branched, mucilaginous. Leaves: Lance-shaped, 3 to 5 in. long, sheathing the stem at base; upper leaves in a spathe-like bract folding like a hood about flowers. Fruit: A 3-celled capsule, seed in each cell. Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady ground. Flowering Season - June - September. Distribution - Southern New York to Illinois and Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, and through tropical America to Paraguay. - Britton and Browne.

In the morning we find the day-flower open and alert-looking, owing to the sharp, erect bracts that give it support; after noon, or as soon as it has been fertilized by the female bees, that are its chief benefactors while collecting its abundant pollen, the lovely petals roll up, never to open again, and quickly wilt into a wet, shapeless mass, which, if we touch it, leaves a sticky blue fluid on our finger-tips.

The SLENDER DAY-FLOWER (C. erecta), the next of kin, a more fragile-looking, smaller-flowered, and narrower-leafed species, blooms from August to October, from Pennsylvania southward to tropical America and westward to Texas.

(Tradescantia Virginiana) Spiderwort family
Flowers - Purplish blue, rarely white, showy, ephemeral, 1 to 2 in. broad; usually several flowers, but more drooping buds, clustered and seated between long blade-like bracts at end of stern. Calyx of 3 sepals, much longer than capsule. Corolla of 3 regular petals; 6 fertile stamens, bearded; anthers orange; 1 pistil. Stem: 8 in. to 3 ft. tall, fleshy, erect, mucilaginous, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, long, blade-like, keeled, clasping, or sheathing stem at base. Fruit: 3-celled capsule. Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, thickets, gardens. Flowering Season - May-August. Distribution - New York and Virginia westward to South Dakota and Arkansas.

As so very many of our blue flowers are merely naturalized immigrants from Europe, it is well to know we have sent to England at least one native that was considered fit to adorn the grounds of Hampton Court. John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I, for whom the plant and its kin were named, had seeds sent him by a relative in the Virginia colony; and before long the deep azure blossoms with their golden anthers were seen in gardens on both sides of the Atlantic - another one of the many instances where the possibilities of our wild flowers under cultivation had to be first pointed out to us by Europeans.

Like its relative the dayflower, the spiderwort opens for part of a day only. In the morning it is wide awake and pert; early in the afternoon its petals have begun to retreat within the calyx, until presently they become "dissolved in tears," like Job or the traditional widow. What was flower only a few hours ago is now a fluid jelly that trickles at the touch. Tomorrow fresh buds will open, and a continuous succession of bloom may be relied upon for a long season. Since its stigma is widely separated from the anthers and surpasses them, it is probable the flower cannot fertilize itself, but is wholly dependent on the female bees and other insects that come to it for pollen. Note the hairs on the stamens provided as footholds for the bees.

(Pontederia cordata) Pickerel-weed family
Flowers - Bright purplish blue, including filaments, anthers, and style; crowded in a dense spike; quickly fading; unpleasantly odorous. Perianth tubular, 2-lipped, parted into 6 irregular lobes, free from ovary; middle lobe of upper lip with 2 yellow spots at base within. Stamens 6, placed at unequal distances on tube, 3 opposite each lip. Pistil 1, the stigma minutely toothed. Stem: Erect, stout, fleshy, to 4 ft. tall, not often over 2 ft. above water line. Leaves: Several bract-like, sheathing stem at base; leaf only, midway on flower-stalk, thick, polished, triangular, or arrow-shaped, 4 to 8 in. long, 2 to 6 in. across base. Preferred Habitat - Shallow water of ponds and streams. Flowering Season - June-October. Distribution - Eastern half of United States and Canada.

Grace of habit and the bright beauty of its long blue spikes of ragged flowers above rich, glossy leaves give a charm to this vigorous wader. Backwoodsmen will tell you that pickerels lay their eggs among the leaves; but so they do among the sedges, arums, wild rice, and various aquatic plants, like many another fish. Bees and flies, that congregate about the blossoms to feed, may sometimes fly too low, and so give a plausible reason for the pickerel's choice of haunt. Each blossom lasts but a single day; the upper portion, withering, leaves the base of the perianth to harden about the ovary and protect the solitary seed. But as the gradually lengthened spike keeps up an uninterrupted succession of bloom for months, more than ample provision is made for the perpetuation of the race - a necessity to any plant that refuses to thrive unless it stands in water. Ponds and streams have an unpleasant habit of drying up in summer, and often the pickerel weed looks as brown as a bulrush where it is stranded in the baked mud in August. When seed falls on such ground, if indeed it germinates at all, the young plant naturally withers away.

(Quamasia kyacinthina; Scilla Fraseri of Gray) Lily family
Flowers - Several or many, pale violet blue, or rarely white, in a long, loose raceme; perianth of 6 equal, narrowly oblong, widely spreading divisions, the thread-like filaments inserted at their bases; style thread-like, with 3-lobed stigma. Scape: 1 to 2 ft. high, from egg-shaped, nearly black bulb, 1 to 1 1/2 in. long. Leaves: Grass-like, shorter than flowering scape, from the base. Fruit: A 3-angled, oval capsule containing shining black seeds. Preferred Habitat - Meadows, prairies, and along banks of streams. Flowering Season - April-May. Distribution - Pennsylvania and Ohio westward to Minnesota, south to Alabama and Texas.

Coming with the crocuses, before the snow is off the ground, and remaining long after their regal gold and purple chalices have withered, the Siberian scillas sold by seedsmen here deserve a place in every garden, for their porcelain-blue color is rare as it is charming; the early date when they bloom makes them especially welcome; and, once planted and left undisturbed, the bulbs increase rapidly, without injury from overcrowding. Evidently they need little encouragement to run wild. Nevertheless they are not wild scillas, however commonly they may be miscalled so. Certainly ladies' tresses, known as wild hyacinth in parts of New England, has even less right to the name.
What is the purpose of this passage about flowers?
  1. To provide an in-depth description of different types of flowers
  2. To offer a description of flowers from a particular part of the world
  3. To describe the perfect flowers for planting in a garden
  4. To suggest the ideal flowers to give to someone as a gift
What do all of the flowers have in common?
  1. They are all found in Illinois.
  2. They all attract the same kinds of insects.
  3. They all have blue and/or purple flowers.
  4. They all start with the letter W.
Without reading more than one line of text, how can you tell what all of the flowers have in common?

How does the Slender Day-Flower differ from the Common Day-Flower?
  1. It is more fragile.
  2. It has smaller flowers.
  3. It has narrower leaves.
  4. All of the above
Which flower is not from Europe like the rest of the flowers?
  1. Common Day-Flower
  2. Spiderwort
  3. Pickerel Weed
  4. Wild Hyacinth
If the crocus is known as the first sign of spring, when does the wild hyacinth typically appear?
  1. Early spring
  2. Late spring
  3. Early summer
  4. Late summer
The details in parentheses after each flower represent the flower's scientific name.
  1. True
  2. False
What is wrong with wild hyacinths being called wild?

Based on the text, you can infer that a pickerel is...
  1. A type of flower
  2. A type of frog
  3. A type of fish
  4. A type of weed
The spiderwort and day-flower are open the entire day.
  1. True
  2. False

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