Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Last Flower of 2009

Today I looked up during a class and saw shrubs coated in bright yellow. I knew they were witch hazel from their location, and I knew that I had seen witch hazel flowers covered in snow before. I used to think that they were some of the very first signs of spring. Turns out, I was misguided. They are the last flowers of fall (at least this yellow variety), which sometimes hang on until later in the winter. But now is when they're being pollinated. There aren't that many pollinators out there at this point, but these plants are capitalizing on the fact that what few pollinators are left have got very limited options. So they're all heading to the witch hazels. I guess there are moths that last into winter and feed on these flowers. Once pollinated, the plant will go dormant for the winter and the nuts won't form until next year. It's sort of a strange life cycle, really. But it obviously works.

Other trees adorned with chartreuse today are the osage oranges (more on them at a later time). I am tired. Just in case you care.

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