In the spring of every year on Pepperdine University’s campus, patches of hills are covered with the South African native flower Dimorphotheca aurantiaca or more commonly known as the African Daisy. An observation of the opening and closing mechanism of the flower triggered an important question: does the flower change its shape based on temperature or the presence of light? At night, the African Daisy closes and then opens up again in the daytime. Because temperature has such strong effects on different species of ectodermic animals and temperature-sensitive plants, we hypothesized that the change in temperature initiates the flower’s morphological change. Six flower pots were placed in warmer temperature and then in colder temperature, both under light and then under darkness for six-hour periods. The infrared thermometer was used to accurately measure what temperature the flowers were detecting. Ultimately, we did not reject the null: The African Daisy responded more significantly to change in light exposure than to change in temperature. This discovery reveals that the flower detects light to maintain its survival.
Chung, Tommy; Aguilar, Kathleen; and Kim, Sunny, "Exploring the Open-Close Mechanism of Dimorphotheca aurantiaca: Day versus Night and Cold versus Hot Temperatures" (2011). Pepperdine University, Featured Research. Paper 32.