Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring 1

Our story so far, here in eastern Massachusetts: 

Silver maple was first of the native trees in my neighborhood to bloom way back on April 4th, followed by lengthening of quaking aspen catkins just two days later.  Both are now done.  Red maple flower buds began breaking Tuesday, April 14, and this widespread tree is now in glorious bloom, brightening the highways.  Black cherry, which leafs out early, has been gradually unfolding its buds over the last few days.  Paper birch catkins are beginning to soften and stretch out, and I expect to start seeing pollen flying within a day or two. Norway maple leafs out and blooms at the same time; that will begin in a few days. 

silver maple (Acer saccharinum) an quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) just in bloom 4/6.

 Near their peaks on 4/11 (silver maple) and 4/13 (quaking aspen).
Both these trees are monoecious (having male and female flowers on the same tree;
you can see that about half the maple flowers have long stamens (male organs that produce pollen).

Silver maple and trembling aspen today, 4/18.  Silver maple has dropped male flowers,
while quaking aspen's male flowers--post-orgy--are almost as sad-looking.

Black cherry (Prunus serotina) yesterday, 4/17.

Female red maple (Acer rubrum) flowers freshly in bloom 4/15.  The long stigmas of
 these female flowers reach out to catch wind-borne pollen.  Red maple is dioecious,
so an entire tree is male or female--a situation a little unusual in the plant world.

Red maples today, Big Daddy's staminate flowers above, Little Mama's 
pistillate flowers below.  Notice the feathery stigmas that accept pollen have
been joined by expanding "wings" that will allow the wind to carry the mature seeds.

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