February flowers

There are lots of flowers in the park at the moment – bright yellow patches of crocuses, swathes of purple crocuses, the occasional miniature daffodil, camelias, winter viburnum and forsythia and, I think, some Cornelian cherry. However, these are not the flowers that have roused my interest. Two trees are producing small, red flowers right now. They are easily missed as they are not particularly large and showy. But altogether they definitely give their tree a rosy glow.

Two of the trees are together at the bottom of the park – large Silver maples with long, pendulous branches hanging over the bottom path and grassed area. Not only are there the bright red female flowers but there are flecks of yellow here and there of stamens dangling from a reddish tube of sepals. That is to say there are male flowers and female flowers on the same tree. This is a situation normally described as the tree being monoecious but having looked things up in Hillier and Wikipedia, Acers aren’t always that straightforward. They can be dioecious too, or polygamous. I’ll settle for what my pictures tell me and say this tree is looking monoecious at the moment. I can’t speak much for its neighbouring tree as most of the pictures were just of the one tree – the one with the lowest branches. I noticed the red flowers last year which definitely were female and produced seed. I never noticed any of the yellow male flowers, but something must have pollinated those female flowers last year.

The other trees are Persian ironwoods and the best one to look at is opposite the bowling green, just off the path. It’s had bright red buds for some time and they are now open. The flowers are tiny, they have no petals and the colour is due to the cluster of bright red stamens. The brown sepals are still evident below the stamens. These appear to be male flowers and if there is a female part to them it is very small and difficult to find. The other Persian ironwood, that I know of by the pond, has very few flowers by comparison.

If there’s one thing that I can take from this snippet of information, it’s that there is always something new to learn. Trees, on the surface, seem to be simple things. That is to say we accept that they get on and do what they do, but the way they do it is quite complex. The more I have learned about trees over the past year, the more I have come to realise there is so much more yet to learn – I wish I wasn’t such a slow reader!

2 responses to “February flowers”

  1. Fascinating detail Brian many thanks for your efforts.


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