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slug Created with Sketch. Science Questions

How do flowers get their scent?

Flowers make chemicals that are useful in attracting whatever kind of insects or birds will visit and pollinate them. The fragrance is a mixture of compounds that a plant produces, which is often strongest in the flower’s petals. Petals can be used in making perfumes.


Flower Power

A flower in full bloom tends to have a stronger scent than a bud has. Scientists believe that a plant will produce the most scent when it is ready for pollinators to visit. For example, many plants that are pollinated by moths tend to produce the most scent in the evening or at night, when moths are most active, while plants pollinated by bees produce the most scent during the day, when bees are active. A bud likely has less scent than a blooming flower because it has not fully developed yet and so it’s not yet ready for pollinators.

Photo by: PhotographerOlympus/iStock

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