Test Your Knowledge - March

A Test Your Knowledge Unknown
Maple flowers
Karen Russ, ©2006 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Yes. These are maple flowers.

While maples are usually thought of more as shade than as flowering trees, they are one our earliest spring flowering trees. The flowers are quite small individually, but produced in such abundance that they are showy even at highway speeds. In late winter to early spring maples are covered with a haze of bright red, yellow, or yellow-green flowers.

Maple flowers, species uncertain, possibly Acer rubrum, red maple.
Maple flowers, species uncertain, possibly Acer rubrum, red maple
Karen Russ, ©2006 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Bright yellow-green flowers of Acer barbatum, southern sugar maple.
Bright yellow-green flowers of Acer barbatum, southern sugar maple
Karen Russ, ©2006 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Each of these individual flowers will produce a double samara, a type of winged fruit, containing a single dry seed in each “wing.” Children know these wings as helicopters, for their characteristic spinning flight pattern. The wings enable the maple seeds to spread easily by wind.

Young maple samaras with those most recently developed from flowers on right.
Young maple samaras with those most recently developed from flowers on right
Karen Russ, ©2006 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The samaras themselves are often quite colorful, carrying on maple color into the late spring.

Red samaras on a Japanese red maple
Brillian red samaras on a Japanese red maple
Karen Russ, ©2009 HGIC, Clemson Extension

For more information on types of maples and how to grow them, refer to HGIC 1016, Maple.

Karen Russ
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