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Video reveals delicate process of flowering lily

by webdev

March 22, 2011

While we may know a lot about how flowers work, we are still unclear as to how some of them bloom. This was the case with the beautiful, white lily, until Harvard mathematicians recently went to work to better find out how this particular bud blossoms. 

They found that a delicate process of ruffling that occurs along the edges of each individual petal may be the key to the process. This is contrary to earlier studies that have hypothesized that some growth takes place within the flower.

One theory speculated that growth in the midribs of the flower could provide enough stress within the flower so that the petals would burst open. Another claimed that there were different growth rates for the internal and external parts of the bud.

"That differences in planar growth strains can lead to shape changes has been known for some time," said principal investigator L. Mahadevan. "But showing that it is at work and dominant in lily blooming is new, as our measurements and simple theory show."

Some expect that these findings will have an immediate impact on the field of materials science, where thin films and elastic sheets are used. Additionally, scientists may use them to create sensors and other devices that can successfully replicate the process of blooming. The experiment found that lily petals grow in a similar way to leaves.

"In particular, leaves have rippled edges due to gradients in growth in the plane that lead to the edge growing more than the middle," Mahadevan said. "[Lilies use a similar mechanism to] leaf growth, except that the petals are curved objects."

Those who love lilies may be inspired to buy flowers and watch the blooming unfold themselves, particularly as Spring begins to warm up weather across the country. These buds can also make romantic gifts, because they represent patience, innocence and affection, according to The Virginian-Pilot and are often used to symbolize love at first sight.

Two videos of the lilies blooming are available - one is in black and white and the other is animated.

Other films have featured blooming flowers as well. Paul Kuehnel used a Motorola Droid X in order to record the blossoming of a single amaryllis bulb for a month, according to The York Daily Record. He took a detailed and beautiful picture of the bud each day so one can see the full lifespan of the flower.


This article is brought to you by Teleflora - a leader in the flower delivery service for over 75 years. Teleflora helps its customers buy flowers online and specializes in bringing the freshest available flowers for a variety of holidays and occasions - all hand-delivered in keepsake vases by the best local florists. 

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