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Showy and Subtle Tree Flowers

Mar 06, 2017

Dogwoods and redbuds are popular flowering trees.  But elms, oaks, maples and other trees have flowers too! Some flowers are real eye-catchers while others are so inconspicuous they go unnoticed.  This is because some flowers need to be noticed and others do not.

Flowers are pollinated by wind, insects or other animals.  If a tree relies on insects for pollination, its flowers must be showy to attract them.  If wind is used for pollination, conspicuous flowers are of no benefit. 

Oaks, elms and maples have small, inconspicuous flowers because they are wind-pollinated.  Most wind-pollinated flowers lack petals and may not even look like flowers.  They begin flowering early in the spring before most insects are active.  The small flowers produce large amounts of pollen and are able to catch windblown pollen.  The flowers must produce lots of pollen, for the pollen blows wherever the wind carries it, and only a small portion of what is released will land where it’s needed.

This month, take a close look at the common trees in your yard, neighborhood or park; you’ll find some of the first flowers of spring.

The Flowering Dogwood

  • The flowering dogwood is one of the most beautiful trees to come alive during the spring.
  • Dogwood flowers are small, usually in clusters of 25-30, and surrounded by four large white (sometimes pink) petal-life bracts, and appear in early spring before the leaves.
  • Dogwood fruits are scarlet egg-shaped berries (drupes) that are usually in clusters of 2-6 and appear August through November.
  • Dogwood leaves are simple and egg-shaped, normally dark green and 3-5 inches long with slightly wavy edges.
  • At maturity, dogwood trees reach 40 feet tall and can be up to 35 feet wide.

Find out more about dogwoods with the MDC’s Field Guide.




Flowers on oak tree
Flowers on oak tree

MO DOC-2017-DNN March Week 2-Tree Flowers-MDOC1703-LF02.mp3

Discover Nature Notes Radio
Discover Nature Notes Flowering Trees

Flowering Trees - Discover Nature

Watch the spring flowering tree season unfold in the woodlands.
Watch the spring flowering tree season unfold in the woodlands.

Elm blossoms on twig

Elm blossoms on twig
Elm blossoms on twig

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