Buttercup, Lesson 2

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“Velvet bee! You dusty fellow-

I have anointed your legs with gold.”

Jean Anglo. (seven songs)

Did your mother read that poem to you? If she doesn’t, ask her to do so. I am sure you will like to learn it. It gives you beautiful pictures to remember.
And that’s exactly what happened to Mrs. Bug in Buttercup. Her legs and body were well dipped in golden pollen.
Mrs. Bag is always very hungry. She can eat more honey than the buttercup can carry. She found the Buttercup dish to her liking. When you eat everything in one flower, you move on to the next buttercup. Only here is where Mrs. Buttercup helps her career.
Look at your buttercup again. Inside the ring of stamens, look at the small hill covered with small green sticks. Each of them is called a pistil. The top of the pistil is called the stigma. The stigma takes this pollen grain and sends it down the inside of the pistil to a small seed box. In this seed case, tiny seed germs await. We call these seed spores “ovules”. Pollen causes these ovules to develop into seeds.
Now, that’s exactly what Mrs. Buttercup wants. She is coloring her corolla a beautiful bright golden color to catch Mrs. Bug’s attention. She puts on a dish of fragrant honey to please her nose and tongue. She makes small paths so that Mrs. Bug can find this dish. She places her stamens where Mrs. Bug must touch them while she is eating. Mrs. Buttercup fixes the stamens so that the anthers open and throw golden pollen when agitated. They make the pistils so that when pollen is dusted on the stigma, it will send it to the waiting ovules. They make the ovules begin to develop into seeds when pollen falls on them.
Mrs. Buttercup thinks her pollen box and seed case are the most important parts. As soon as the sun’s rays leave it, it folds the corolla tightly around it. This way, you keep them warm during the night. You also roll it up when it’s cold or wet.
Have you ever looked at a field of buttercups when it was raining? Did the corolla stay open? Did the field shine?
After starting the seed, the corolla remains open. Then the sun shines directly on the seed tray and the seeds ripen.
Mrs. Buttercup doesn’t stop nurturing her when the seeds start. She wants each seed to have a good place to start a new life of their own. You know that your mom and dad want you to grow up and start some useful business. They take care of you when you are too young to take care of yourself. They give you an education for whatever job they think you’ll like.
Now, Mrs. Buttercup knows her children would love to be Buttercup. Feed them while they are young. She waits until they are ripe to send them away from home. She makes them grow up so they can help themselves. On each seed, a small hook grows. When the seed ripens, it attaches itself to anything that passes by. Some may have tied themselves to your clothes while playing and picked themselves in the grass. Then I gave them a free ride. After a while, they fell out. They buried themselves in the ground. There, the following year they started new buttercup plants.
If you want a new fancy-party dish, try buttercup seeds. Native Californians used to collect baskets and baskets filled with these seeds. Think how long it took you to fill a basket with these tiny seeds. But it was fun. In the sunshine all the women and all the children work together. You might think they weren’t laughing and playing. Well, you should have been there.
In the camp of the natives, there was always a fire. They put a flat rock over the fire. When the rock was hot, they poured some buttercup seeds on it and made it thirsty. Sometimes they ate dry seeds. Sometimes they made it into mush. It tasted somewhat like dry corn mush.
You can collect and plant seeds to start a California wildflower garden at school. You will have so much fun watching the plants grow and flourish and the insects come to see them. Just give it a try.

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