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What are 'moon flowers' and why do they bloom only at night?

'Moon flower' is the common name for a variety of night-flowering plants that are big and white. For example, In Arizona, we have sacred datura (Datura wrightii), night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii), and several species of morning glory (several Ipomoea species). These plants have evolved over millions of years to be timed with the night/day cycle, because they are typically pollinated by night-flying insects like hawk moths, which makes them sensitive to small changes in light amount and intensity. An interesting science project would be to see what happens when you manipulate these.

From Ask A Biologist

Question From: 
Noah
Grade Level: 
10