Monday, March 12, 2012

The Alpha Males and The Ladies of a Red and a Silver Maple (A Post for Sarah)

Red Maple Male Flowers, Last year, March 20th, 2011, Prospect Park

Last year when I saw this flower, I joked about it being a possible pink maple if there was such a thing, but that I really thought it was a Red Maple with only male flowers. (the leaf nearby on the ground helped with identification) I had read that Red Maples could sometimes have both types of flowers on the same tree, but that more often than not a tree had either male flowers or female flowers and since I only saw stamens and anthers on this tree's flowers, it seemed like a tree that produced only male flowers. The female flowers or rather their parts are what form the fruit, the samaras that are associated with maples.

Below is a picture of a different tree that very same weekend last year. I assumed that it was also a Red Maple, but that this time it was a tree with only female flowering parts. Now, I am still unsure of whether the tree below is a Red Maple or a Silver or a hybrid of the two (I had forgotten that I'd gone back to watch the leaves unfold about a month later in April and that they looked more like a silver than a red maple and I don't remember checking again when the leaves were completely open. I'll do it this year though.) At the time, I'd read that they are closely related, that they do hybridize (into the Freeman's Maple in the trade) and that their bloom times can overlap. Either way, though, the flowers below don't seem to have anthers at all and this same tree is blooming now this year. (I haven't checked on the one above in Prospect Park though.)

This post is for Sarah over at her blog, musingsfromdave. She's got a nice new camera, so perhaps she can get some really good closeups of these flowers up in Vermont, where they should be behind us a bit. Thanks for making me go back through my pictures. I think the picture below and the one from my recent post is actually a silver maple now.

Female flowers, (possibly Silver Maple, last year, March 19th, Floyd Bennett)


frank@nycg said...

Are red maples or silver maples monoecious or dioecious?

Sweetgum Thursday said...

It seems they are both mostly dioecious, but that there is some variation where trees will produce both male and female flowers in certain years and maybe even some individual flowers that have both parts. I think they called them polygamecious, but I'm not sure if that terminology is current or not.

frank@nycg said...

I see. It's quite a strategy.