Monday, April 11, 2011

A Tree-Spotter's Guide to Flowers: 3

Sloe (blackthorn) blossom is produced before any leaves appear, often in such profusion that whole hedgerows can look as though they're covered in snow.

Wild cherry (gean) blossom - clusters of large flowers set against expanding foliage that has a bronze tint when it's young.

Male ash flowers. Ash trees flower long before their leaves expand - this is usually the last tree species to come into leaf, in May. There are three basic kinds of ash tree. All-male trees like this produce dense clusters of crimson pollen-producing anthers when their flower buds burst. All-male trees never produce ash 'keys' in autumn.

 Female trees produce clusters of flowers with bright red stigmas and styles - the style will later develop into the wing of the ash 'key'. Female trees produce heavy crops of  'keys' in autumn.

Close-up of female ash flowers. There are also hermaphrodite trees, whose flowers look similar to these female flowers but have a pair of pollen-producing anthers attached on either side of those slender green stalks. They too produce heavy crops of 'keys' in autumn.

Just to complicate matters even further, some trees produce any two of the above three flower types on the same tree i.e. male + female; male + hermaphrodite; female + hermaphrodite.

For more information on trees click here


  1. Phil, I have been puzzled by two adjacent mature Ash trees in a neighbour's garden, one laden with keys (and latterly a Crow's nest) and one without any keys at all. Many thanks for the enlightenment.

  2. Crumbs, I think I'm more con fused than ever now. I shall have to inspect 'my' Ash tree very closely, it is just producing leaves.

  3. I often wondered the same thing Graeme, until I found out what was going on... best wishes, Phil

  4. When they produce seeds they certainly produce a lot, Toffeeapple - I'm forever pulling ash seedlings out of my garden.

  5. I discovered the weird and wonderful hairy fungi, some crimson beaded erupting on a bare ash tree out of the splitting black buds at an ancient settlement in Wales. Seeking enlightenment I Googled. Amazing explanation and so comprehensive.n ow I can write a poem with greater understanding. I did enjoy your work. Thank you so much. Mrs Page

  6. Dear Mrs. Page, I'm delighted that my blog was of some use to you.Best wishes, Phil Gates


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