Thursday, April 15, 2010

Of Red Maples and Magnolias

As promised, here is a short but oh so sweet post about Red Maples and Magnolias in honour of their Spring flowers.

 Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

 A common Eastern North American tree recognized by its characteristic red flowers, petioles, twigs, and seeds.  Its widespread distribution is possible thanks to the Red Maple's adaptability. It grows just as well in poorly drained to very dry soils. Its attractive red fall foliage led to the Red Maple being a popular choice for landscaping projects - which also helped it spread across the continent.

It is possible to make maple syrup from its sap but to a lesser extent than the Sugar Maple (Acer Saccarhum). AND, FYI, it is the state tree of Rhode Island. Now for some pictures.

The next species has very different flowers. Compared to the Red Maple (and most other trees), they are very showy. I think they look like tissue paper, in a good way.

The Magnolia (Magnolia sp.)
Family : Magnoliaceae

Unfortunately, I forgot to get the species name today so I'll get it for you tomorrow. I'll just give you some  general information about the genus. 

The genus Magnolia contains 210 species varying in size, colour, and shape. They were named in honour of French Botanist Pierre Magnol. He is known for inventing of the concept of plant families, a natural classification, based on combinations of morphological characters in 1689 (this is before Linnaeus came up with the binomial classification we use today). 

It is a very old genus, its flowers show the distinctive primitive characteristic of undifferentiated petals and sepals. 
Magnolia flowers are adapted to pollination by beetles. This can be seen in their tough carpels (reproductive parts, stigma and stamens) which reduce damage from crawling and eating insects. 

I really like Magnolia flowers. I love the contrast of the huge flowers and naked branches. Here are some more pics.

These were particularly hard to photograph because of the wind. I was told we also had a yellow Magnolia. I'll try and find it. I'll also be looking for the Tulip Tree - another absolutely beautiful tree with amazing flowers.

Take care!


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