White and black are supposedly opposites. White is a combination of all wavelengths of visible light. Black is a complete absence of such light. In other words, white is a mixture of all colors, while black is the absence of any color. This seems contrary to the common perception of white as a complete lack of color and black as a complete mix of all colors.

It actually makes sense. The two really are opposites of both each other and themselves. This is about horticulture, though, rather than physics. Black is quite rare as a floral color; white is not. The vast majority of flowers do not rely on color to attract pollinators, so are green or brown. Otherwise, most other prominent flowers in many ecosystems are white.

Like inconspicuous green and brown flowers, many white flowers exploit wind more than pollinators. Such flowers are generally profuse but mostly diminutive and unimpressive. Other flowers that appear to be white utilize infrared or ultraviolet colors that are invisible to people but colorful to nocturnal pollinators. Some of them are pale during the daytime.

Horticulturist Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.

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