Tree flowers are blooming in our neighborhood, which is good news and bad news.
The good news is that — even without colorful petals — tree flowers are beautiful in their own ways. Some tree flowers, like newly opened Weeping Willow, are beautiful in a cute and fuzzy way:
Common Alder flowers are beautiful in a more formal, stately way:
Some Red Maple flowers explode, like fireworks:
Looking closer, we see these Maple flowers have only pollen-bearing parts:
The seed-making flowers must bloom elsewhere, maybe on the same tree, maybe on others of its kind. (I’m not sure which it is with this specific tree, so I’ll keep visiting it until I find out.)
To appreciate tree flowers’ beauty, getting closer almost always helps. American Elm flowers look a little messy, but the play of yellow-greens and purples has a certain charm:
Of course, when a windy rainstorm knocks tree flowers to the ground, they can make mess for folks like us to clean:
If you stop and look closely, tree flowers can spread a bit of spring-time joy across your neighborhood. But the bad news is they also spread a lot of pollen. So, late last week we broke out my son Ethan’s allergy medications. We know we can manage the mess of fallen flowers and the seeds that follow. Now we’ll see if we can manage Ethan’s seasonal allergies, which may get worse as he enters his high school years.
But first, one more piece of good news about tree flowers and other opening buds: They bring tiny bugs to tree tops, which in turn bring tiny birds, like Kinglets, Warblers, and Tanagers. Tree flowers mark the beginning of another stage in spring migration.
Notes added April 2, 2009: This post was our entry in the Festival of the Trees #34, a “carnival” of blog posts about trees. Go here to see a list of the other entries. If you liked my post about tree flowers, then you should also check out Treeblog’s post on tree flowers, buds, and catkins.
Yesterday we received our first Pollen and Mold Alert email from the National Allergy Board. We weren’t surprised to see maple and elm pollen on the list. Our pollen counts come from a station in nearby Melrose Park, Illinois. If you live in the United States, you can go here to find the station closest to you.