All-Con 2014: The Aftermath – 2

All-Con tyrannosaur

This year, in addition to the usual vending appearance, I was invited to suggest possible panels and lectures for the convention. Last year’s general lecture on carnivorous plants was so successful that I was asked to reprise it for Thursday night, but Friday night was special. This year was the first public test of the ultraviolet laser array I put together to view the fluorescence in various carnivores, and it worked even better than I’d suspected. Some of the most UV-fluorescent species in my collection were still in winter dormancy, such as the various Sarracenia, but enough tropicals were out to make up for it. Among other things, we all observed that not only does the wax on the inside of Brocchinia bromeliads fluoresce, as I already knew, but that the plant has distinct bands in UV that are impossible to see in visible light.

All-Con 2014

The real surprise? I had one Mexican butterwort, Pinguicula moctezumae, in the middle of an early bloom. I knew from experience with other butterworts that this one’s trapping surfaces wouldn’t fluoresce, but the attending audience still got to see the slight fluorescence from chlorophyll, like the last light from formerly red-hot steel. However, its sole flower fluoresces like a sign, with a distinctive white stripe in the upper portion of the bloom apparently intended to attract hummingbirds. Obviously, a lot more work needs to be done on fluorescent attractants in carnivorous plants, both in the traps and in the flowers.

All-Con 2014

All-Con 2014

More to follow…

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