I’m convinced spring has arrived. Spring peepers are peeping, and red maple trees (Acer rubrum) are blooming.
I’ve enjoyed the subtle color of maple flowers for years, and I’ve recently discovered how intricate and beautiful they are. I often see the small blossoms high overhead or from a distance, and they’re easy to overlook. These are male flowers as seen from the ground.
At close range, the rosy-red blossoms are quite showy. According to Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo and Robert Lewellyn, the male anthers are yellow when covered with pollen and appear dark after the pollen is released. This book is helping me notice trees in a different way, and I highly recommend it.
The female flowers give quite a different view. The forked stigmas will catch pollen and eventually form the familiar ‘helicopter’ maple seeds.
Red maples are abundant in Kentucky, and their flowers will add color along our roadways for the next few weeks. After looking at them closely and seeing their exquisite detail, I’ll be appreciating them even more.