This profile view of the Arctotis auriculata flowerhead allows inspection of its involucre. The involucre is the green, leaf-like, lower part comprising several rows of bracts that hold the flowerhead together from budding days, safely until the seeds are ready to disperse on the wind.
The out-curving hairy tails of the outer bracts are narrow and small but rigid and snake-like, as if in aggressive defence mode.
The inner bract tips are delicately thin, broadly rounded like clothing over the base parts of the rays. Protection may well be their purpose, but it’s clearly not modesty they’re after, as there is far too much transparency in the diaphanous membranes.
Flowers are not shy of their reproductive parts at all. These are often boldly on display. Pollinators have to be encouraged after all to touch those parts frequently for sufficient pollen distribution.
And pollinators are rank amateurs although effective performers in these matters. Quite miraculous that such a disorganised lot of hungry vagrants on the lookout for a bite to eat or a sugary drink can perform such a complex task for so many flowering plants so effectively for so long.
Clearly, the plants have to make special efforts for eliciting efficient responses from these aliens of untold origins. Colour, shape, size, timing and fragrance have much to do with these flowering efforts, apart from the specific dishes and cocktails on offer.
Not on first name terms with any of the clientele that are straight into their private parts from the first visit (Le Roux, et al, 2005; Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; iNaturalist).