Vegetal kitten’s tail
Snow is mostly gone, the grass is growing and the plants are wakening. Even with the absence of leaves in trees, there is a way to know they are preparing for summer. Many trees produce flowers in the spring, even if they are not as obvious as the lilac or the apple tree. It is the case of the maple tree with its red flowers or the willow with its catkins. Each species has a different flower. The form, the color and the flower arrangement on the branches facilitated the identification of trees when the leaves are not out yet.
Those flowers mainly use the wind as a mean of pollen transportation, even if some also use pollination by insects. Many spring allergies are caused by the wind transported pollen. Some trees, like the poplar are particularly irritating. Sometimes, in the spring, a yellow film of pollen can be seen on the waves close to the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula. Of course, that pollen is of no use in the water, but that is exactly why trees produce so much pollen. That way, there is a greater chance of pollination.
Once the flower is fertilized, seeds develop. Trees have many dispersal methods. Whether it is in the form of a samara for the maple tree or in the form of cotton like the poplar, wind is often the main source of dispersion. This method is very efficient because it allows the seeds to travel a long distance and therefore colonize greater territories.
Author: Stéphanie Bentz, biologist in charge of education
Photo: Stéphanie Bentz