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Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Did you know Sugar Maples are bisexual?

We’ve all begun to notice the trees beginning to bloom, and FPF member William, brings his insight about what it all means. Did you know there are male and female flowers?

“The red “buds” on the Red Maples and the green “buds” on the Sugar Maples and Norway Maples, are not leaves, they are flowers.

The reproductive biology of Sugar Maples is especially interesting. They are bisexual, producing both male and female gametes, so how do you avoid the ultimate incest of mating, not just with a sibling, but with yourself? Sugar Maples do this by producing the male and female flowers at different times. Some trees in the population are protandrous, and produce the male flowers first, then the female flowers second. Other trees are protogynous, producing the female flowers first, then the male flowers. The male flowers are long and pendulous, with the anthers which produce the pollen. The female flowers are bulkier but less obvious, with the stigmas, which capture the pollen, at the outside, leading down to the ovule at the base. If you look closely, the ovule looks like a pimple with ears. Eventually the ovule will ripen into the maple fruit, with the seed inside, and the “ears” will become the “wings”.”
William in Warren

 

Posted in: Front Porch Forum, Stories, Vermont


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