Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Still Opening My Eyes

On April 9, 1962 the cottonwood trees were in bloom in Kentucky. Harlan Hubbard recorded it in his Payne Hollow Journal. And I'm reminded that I've never seen a cottonwood tree in bloom. In fact, I've only seen a few cottonwood trees in any condition. Harlan notes that some of the blossoms are reddish in color; my research indicates that male blooms (the trees are dioecious) are deep reddish with the female blooms usually being yellowish-green in color. Is the red color related to insect attraction? Yet I think trees that bloom before leafing are usually wind pollinated. Perhaps this tree's pollination strategy has changed over time. I have seen a very large cottonwood tree in town, and I'm inclined to walk out tomorrow to see if it is in bloom.

I've read that the sex ratio is 1 to 8 for cottonwood trees. Man, some trees are just lucky! I can always tell when it's spring; it doesn't matter whether you favor plants or animals, there's more sex going on in the spring than at any other time of the year. That's not a scientific fact, but it's my observation as a naturalist.

My redbud tree is still cautiously swelling its buds, while other redbuds are nearly bursting their flowers. It was the same last year. I guess that's where they get the expression: a "late bloomer". I like homely looking puppies too. But honestly, I didn't know it was a late bloomer when I brought it home. I know the color of those blooms exactly in my mind (more purple really than red), and I can close my eyes and see my tree in bloom. Soon I'll be able to open my eyes and still see the blooms. Then I'll write an entry in my journal.

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