Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Filberts

The filberts (aka hazel-nut, Corylus americana) are in flower in the upper midwest in March this year. Most people being quite plant blind don't even notice the catkins (3 shown here), the dangling inflorescences of pollen flowers some 3-4" long. So no one at all, including botany students, ever notice the brilliantly, dark red pistillate flowers. OK, they are pretty small, but they usually come in clusters of 2-3 flowers enclosed by bud scales (2 such clusters are in this image). Actually all you really see are the stigmas, the pollen receiving parts of the fruiting flowers, which are quite red. Such colorful stigmas are quite common among wind pollinated trees. It takes some pretty good powers of observation to notice the tiny red flowers when distracted by the big, conspicuous catkins at least in terms of size. Flowers adapted for wind pollination generally lack big conspicuous perianth parts because they have no need to attract pollinators. Now that you know, keep your eyes open. TPP is quite impressed with the camera in his new cell phone; that technology has come a long way fast.   

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