Friday, May 20, 2016

Oaks in Flower

Oaks have been bustin' out all over.  The black oaks broke buds first--almost exactly a month ago--beginning a long, slow reveal.  From the buds comes a fountain of tightly-folded leaves and catkins.  then, as the leaves begin to unfold and expand, the catkins--which begin as stumpy little things--stretch out and hang.  Finally the catkins turn from green to golden and begin to shed pollen, and the oak orgy is on!  The female flowers, meanwhile, are tiny bud-like things on the elongating twigs: it is they that capture pollen floating on the wind from another tree, completing sexual reproduction and beginning the process of building one or two acorns.

As of now, black oaks are done flowering--many trees have dropped their male flowers, making a tan drift on street and sidewalk.  Red oaks are now shedding pollen, I think, while the white oak catkins are stretched out but still green.

These photos are all of the same tree, and nearly all of the same twig.

 The little round red things at the base of most leaves are not buds, but female flowers.
If fertilized by pollen from another tree, they will grow to become acorns.

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