Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Tree-Spotter's Guide to Flowers: 1

Mature elm trees may be a rare sight now because of Dutch elm disease but shrubby hedgerow elms are still common. The twigs are covered with tufts of crimson flowers in March.

Tap an elm twig when it's in full flower and all those stamens release a cloud of pollen. Just imagine the amount of pollen that mature elms would have released in their prime.

Norway maple flowers open before any leaves expand...

... and each individual flower has conspicuous green petals.

Sycamore flowers are produced at more or less the same time as the leaves .....

... and unlike Norway maple the flowers have small petals - generally shorter than the clusters of stamens

































The dangling sycamore inflorescences are composed of separate male and female flowers and pollination is by flies and bees (as in Norway maple). Some of the female flowers here have been pollinated and have begun to produce the vestiges of winged fruits - you can them about a third of the way down the inflorescence.

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14 comments:

  1. Thank you for reminding me to notice the less conspicuous tree flowers. I try not to think about the pollen producing ones because I usually have bad allergies, but your pictures are really great.

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  2. A timely reminder to look up as well as down to spot Spring flowers.

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  3. Another informative and brilliantly illustrated article. Thank you Phil. Our hedgerows seem to be composed of different plants from yours. Field Maple seems to be the most frequently spotted variety.

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  4. That's Masha - and I hope your pollen allergy doesn't give you too much trouble..

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  5. Hi Adrian, thanks for taking a look...

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  6. Hi John, the hedgerow trees are all beginning to flower around here at the moment..

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  7. Thanks for visiting Seumus...

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  8. Hi Toffeeapple, field maple isn't a very common tree up here in the North East but now you come to mention it I'll have to find some...

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  9. Funnily enough Phil I came across what I assume was Norway Maple in the grounds of the College of St Hild and St Bede yesterday afternoon. Down near the bottom of the hill close to the tennis courts and boathouse. It was almost completely unrecognisable and I didn't the flowers for what they were but I knew I'd seen something familiar recently (i.e. this post!). Because the flowers were greenish I kept wanting to believe they were leaves rather than what they were. The leaves were a rich brownish colour and still unfurling. Very nice in the evening sunlight.

    Incidentally, and forgive me if I've asked this before (I keep meaning to and can't remember if I have! Senior moments), when you refer to hedgerow and field elms, do you mean Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra?

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  10. Hi Dougie, There are a lot of interesting trees in H&B - they have a big weeping silver lime Tilia tomentosa petiolaris that's very striking and quite a few Acers.The one you describe sounds like a purple-leaved version of Norway maple. When I talked about hedgerow elm I meant English elm, where the mature trees have been killed by Dutch elm disease but where new small trees have sprouted from their rootstocks and continue to thrive until they're large enough to attract the attention of the bark beetles again. Cheers, Phil

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  11. Hi Phil

    Just discovered your website. Its great and full of useful pictures and info to help me with my tree ident. I will be back again, thanks for all the hard work

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  12. Thanks for visiting Rich, all the best, Phil

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