Friday, May 27, 2011
Most of us probably think first of herbaceous (soft stemmed) plants when we hear the word "flower".
But trees (as well as shrubs and other woody-stemmed green things) also produce flowers.
Not that all tree blossoms are so conspicuous as this. This, the blossom of a tuliptree (erroneously "tulip poplar", but sometimes yellow-poplar or white-poplar; officially Liriodendron tulipifera [hooray for The Sibley Guide to Trees!]), is one of the more spectacular examples of a tree flower and is quite obviously a flower. Obvious if you are lucky enough to have a tree young enough to be able to see into its blooming canopy, that is. I am so blessed.
Orioles, as well as the dozens of winged things I found in one blossom, love these flowers for their nectar. (The cut one had liquid pooling up in it by the end of the day it opened.) The flower also produces an amazing seed pod, but you'll have to wait some months for a photo of that.
Blue-eyed grass, one of our few native irises. (Turns out that yellow flag, a water-tolerant iris, isn't native and can be invasive. Oops. At least all of mine are in pots on my decks and to the best of my knowledge haven't seeded themselves out of them.)
Doesn't look like an iris, I know. The petals and sepals that are visible are identically colored and flat, not recurved separately (along with three invisible-here styles) to form the traditional fleur-de-lis pattern of a more "typical" iris.
And it's tiny, about a half an inch across.
Without insects, we likely wouldn't have flowers. This little fellow seemed to be eating the pollen.
The leaves hide well amongst the grasses, but when in flower it catches the eye. I was happy to find more patches of it scattered around the yard than I expected.