Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flowers People Ignore

Many trees and shrubs flower well before they leaf out, and most people don't notice it happening at all because the flowers are often small and/or green and/or lacking in petals.  I reported on a couple yesterday, and there are a few more that will be popping tomorrow or the next day, but here's today's batch:

Alder catkins were tight brown clusters yesterday, but today were significantly swollen and dangly with their green pollen showing.  Unfortunately, it was a pretty windy day and things that hang down to catch the wind are not easy to photograph up close in those conditions, so here's a further-out view:
This tiny and vibrantly pink thing is the female flower of the American hazel.  Though it's brightly colored, they are only about 2-3 mm in size, so get little notice.  (The male flowers are catkins, smaller and lighter-colored than the alder ones, but otherwise similar.  Generally speaking, they and the female flowers bloom around the same time within a population, but NOT at the same time on a single shrub, so as to increase genetic variability by prohibiting individuals from pollinating themselves.  In the cluster of 6ish shrubs that I passed, I found female flowers, but no catkins had swelled/released pollen yet.  Usually you see that first, but... I guess the ladies are going to be lonely for a little while!  Or perhaps there's other hazels nearby to pollinate them.)
PS -- It's supposed to get all cold again tomorrow.  It's come to that -- a predicted high of 46 deg. in February is what I consider "all cold" -- 32 on Saturday, though.  That's actually wintry!  

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