monoecious: having male and female flowers/flower parts on the same plant
This might be a good time to talk about flowers. Some flowers have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) parts in the same flower. These are considered “perfect” flowers. An “imperfect” flower is either only male (staminate) or only female (pistillate). A monoecious plant can have either perfect or imperfect flowers, but if they are imperfect both the staminate and pistillate flowers will be present.
The opposite of monoecious is dioecious, where the plant has either staminate or pistillate flowers, but not both. If you find yourself getting the two mixed up, it can be helpful to know that both terms are derived from the Greek “oikos” which means “house”; when combined with “mono” (one) or “di” (two), you get:
monoecious = one house
dioecious = two houses
In other words, in a monoecious
plant the male and female flowers live together in one house (or plant) while
in a dioecious plant you will only find one or the other.
The catkins in the photo are from an alder (my guess is Alnus tenuifolia) I saw on a hike. The male catkins are the pendulous ones while the female ones are more cone-like. Earlier in the spring they would have appeared fuzzy (the males) or small and green (the females), but as they pollinate/get pollinated they turn brown and harder.
I love when I know the exact word to describe something, whether that “something” is an emotion, a color, taste, or plant part. To help you feel more confident in the words of the botanical world, I’m starting this Botanical Alphabet series. It may or may not be published in exact alphabetical order.
catkin: a spike-like, usually – though not always – pendulous inflorescence of unisexual, apetalous flowers.
If, like me, you are waiting for spring to really come, you’re probably waiting for the flowers to appear. Especially the big showy tree flowers, like magnolia or apple blossoms. But right now where I live, the most common flowering trees to be found are the aspens (in the picture) and the birches. We’ll take what we can get, I guess.
Each catkin is either a group of only male or only female
flowers. Some types of trees have both male and female catkins on the same
plant (monoecious = one house), others have only one or the other (dioecious =
two houses) on a particular plant. Catkins, as you can imagine from their homely,
non-descript appearance, are generally pollinated by the wind. And, if you
happen to suffer from early spring allergies and are wondering which tree to
blame, look for the ones with the catkins and you might find your culprit.
Other trees that have catkins include: willows, hazel,
alders, hickory, and mulberry.
Are there trees flowering where you live? Which ones?
Each month on the 15th garden bloggers around the world post what’s blooming in their gardens. Here’s what’s blooming in mine. Thanks to the May Dreams Garden Blog for the idea.
You can find previous Garden Tours here and here.
This Garden Tour is a bit late in coming to you. I don’t really know what happened, except life, I guess. My little buddy and I went exploring our new neighborhood shortly after we moved in, and now, a full two months later, I’m finally getting around to sharing this little gem we discovered – the Mountain Crest High School Outdoor Classroom. Continue reading