Thanks to Susan Sawyer who commented on this blog yesterday, we can now all understand the fascinating adaptive mechanism that some plants have that enables them to propagate in unfavorable conditions, such as this summer's dry weather.
Cleistogamous plants, such as violets, are able to produce flowers that self-pollinate using non- opening flowers. This mode of reproduction is biologically less expensive than chasmoganous (opening flowers) reproduction, and it allows the plant to scatter many seeds in less-than-optimal conditions. It's true that self-pollination results in a kind of in-breeding and is not best over a long time; but it gets the job done when water is scarce or pollinators are not present or a plant is in an otherwise compromised environment. It makes me think of what my Smart car manual calls driving in "limp home mode."