Bog White Violet
The tidbit about (Black) Vultures just goes to show you, table manners do not matter in dating. What do vultures have to do with violets other than starting with the letter V? Answer: They’re both gregarious but have oddly restricted genetic exchange. Genetic testing shows black vultures to limit genetic exchange to one partner, despite apparent opportunities for side-stepping at a road kill party.
Violets, which having beautiful broadly pollinated blossoms, have also “cleistogamous” (kleist-OG-ah-muss) flowers, which are small, inconspicuous flowers that bear fruit without ever opening. They often look like buds. Most cleistogamous flowers are self-pollinated, thus creating clones or near-clones of the parent plant. Cleistogamous flowers occur in a lot of plants; they are sort of a plan B. That is, in addition to mixing genes broadly helped by the birds and bees visiting regular flowers, use also cleistogamous flowers to make backup copies of the parent plant. Look for cleistogamous flowers low on violet plants.
There are 500-600 violet species in the world. Three species inhabit our usual Treasure-Coast haunts, with Bog White Violet, Viola lanceolata, common and conspicuous. It has white flowers with purple nectar guides (tracks) leading into the floral center.
The purple pigments are called anthocyanins, and interestingly, anthocyanin colors change with acidity and alkalinity. Might be fun to try with some violets. More interestingly, in violets and in many other plants, the coloration corresponds with the petal veins. Why? When you think it over, that is weird. How can a pigment be confined in veins, which are made of dead water-conducting cells and highly specialized sap-carrying cells? I mean, plumbing with running water is no good place to sequester a pigment. But:
The color is not actually in the plumbing. To explore this further we have to go to other plants and extrapolate speculatively to today’s case. In other species with similar colored-vein patterns there is a gene called “venosa.” Responding to some mysterious cue, the venosa gene turns on pigment-making genes in the leaf cells overlying veins. In short, something about being near a comparatively large vein turns on a gene. That gene is a switch to turn on different genes, and those second genes case pigment formation.
Violets enjoy a little help from ants in dispersing their seeds. The seeds have a small food packet attached.. Hungry ants drag the candy bar with that pesky seed attached back to their well-tilled, fertilized, and armed-guarded nests. Great place for the violet to grow, and make more seeds for more ants.