Wildflowers of 2014 - #8 Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
|Red Maple (Acer rubrum) in bloom|
|Male flowers of Red Maple - note the pollen covered anthers|
|A sprawling Red Maple tree|
|Male flowers on a Red Maple|
|A closer view of the male flowers|
My second new wildflower of the day and ninth wildflower of the year was this one.
The flowers of this small wind-pollinated tree are 1-2 inch long catkins. Male and female catkins are separately located on the tips of branches. Male flowers are larger than female flowers. In the pictures above and below you can see both the dangling male catkins and the shorter erect female catkins. After pollination, the female catkins will become woody and resemble small pine cones.
|Male (dangling) and female (erect) catkins of Speckled Alder|
I was fairly certain that this tree was a Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa or A. incana) based on the catkins and reddish bark. The bark is covered with white horizontal lenticels (pores) which allow air to enter the trunk and branches.
|Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa) - note the dark red bark and white lenticels|
Speckled Alder, also known as Gray Alder or Tag Alder, often grows in dense stands along streams and in other wet places.This small stand was growing along the edge of a cedar swamp.
|A small stand of Speckled Alder|
Sometimes when trying to identify a tree or shrub, it can be helpful to clip a twig for closer examination later. Later when I looked at one of my tree books (Michigan Trees by Barnes and Wagner), I noted that the twigs of this tree have a triangle-shaped pith. When I cut into the twig, this triangular pith confirmed my Speckled Alder identification.
|Cross-section of a Speckled Alder twig - note the triangular pith|