Sunday, March 11, 2012

Following The Seasons in Your Own Way

Female flowers Red (Or is it a silver maple? What I know is that the flower appears to have only female sex parts.) Maple, March 10, 2012 Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn. Same tree last year , a bit later.

There are lots of good reasons to pay attention to trees and the other plants around you as winter gives way to spring. If you've already learned what a tree's flowers look like, you might then begin to track its bloom time in your own way throughout the years. Last week on Brooklyn Botanic's news blog, arborist Chris Roddick explained a little bit about the complexity of factors that effect the variability of the exact moment of bloom from year to year among species. I enjoyed his post not only because it offered some insight from someone who has spent two decades observing and working with trees, but also because it speaks to the power of observation. And paying attention is something that anyone with any level of botanic knowledge can do. I don't expect to solve any great scientific questions by paying attention to seasonal cues and clues in my own small way, but this small act does make me feel connected to a broader scientific community that is always asking questions and trying to figure out the connections between complex factors in a changing world. And of course, it's incredibly convenient that there is always also the simple joy in celebrating the moment and its beauty.


sarah said...

hey, do you have any idea what those little danglies are, coming out of the bud? I'm at sarahsabbatical (at ) gmail dot com. Our gray birches put out magenta doo hickies last year, and my current theory is that their purpose was to be glorious. I couldn't see that they were functioning in any other, help! =)

Sweetgum Thursday said...

Hey Sarah..I wouldn't go by my call on it. But for the maple in the photo, (and to be honest I'm still unsure of whether it's perhaps a silver or red maple or perhaps a hybrid..I keep forgetting to follow the leaves), my understanding is that those are actually the female sex parts that are protruding to catch pollen. I don't know about the birch. I'll see if I can find you some information though.

Sweetgum Thursday said...

And now I remember I was leaning towards this being a silver maple when I saw the leaves unfolding. In either case though, male flower parts look like they do on other flowers. You see anthers.