Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blooming Shrubs and Trees

At Blue Jay Barrens, the showiest early spring floral displays come from the trees and shrubs. I had a few minutes yesterday evening to make a circuit around the field behind the house to assess the progress of the flowers. The Sassafras trees have produced a profusion of lime-green flower clusters.

Each tree or shrub has a signature way in which it displays its flowers. That makes spring an ideal time to locate new species growing on your property or to estimate the extent of the plants you have. This Sassafras was conspicuous from a long way off.

Shrubs thrive along the edges of fields where they receive both adequate sunlight and shelter from neighboring trees. During a good bloom year the fields can have a fantastically colorful border. We’re still about a week away from peek color.

It’s interesting how the Redbud flowers appear to explode right out of the stem. Many shrubs and trees produce blooms before the leaves emerge. I suppose the lack of leaves would make it easier for pollinators to find the flowers and increase the chances of viable seed being produced by the plant.

The Flowering Dogwood has four large bracts that expand and turn white as the flower cluster they surround blooms. The morning frost may have caused some slight damage to the tips of the bracts, but most of the discoloration towards the tips is normal. The showiest seasons are those in which the bracts complete their growth without any frosts or freezes. Even when the bracts suffer, the flowers seem unscathed and go on to produce a good crop of fruits.

The flower cluster of the Prickly-ash emerges from a bud nestled between two sharp thorns. The tip of one of the thorns can be seen protruding from the lower left of the flower cluster. The thorns are sharp enough to make me want to confine my photographic endeavors to the edge of the thicket.

A few shrubs produce leaves along with the blooms. When they finally bloom, the flowers of this Black-haw will be positioned ahead of the leaves, so there will be no way the pollinators can miss them.


  1. Spring's palette of delicate pastel's!! Those blossoms are so nice!! It is to bad they don't last longer!!

  2. Your blooms are loverly, I can't wait for blossoms to come out up here. We have plenty of foliage sprouting so it shouldn't be long now!

  3. ...have you seen any hummers tasting the nectar in those blooms? I've seen two on the Little Miami Trail, but not yet in our yard.