As I walk by various deciduous trees in Eliza Howell Park at this time of the year, I often look for flowers. This spring, as in previous years, I am reminded how different the flowers are among the different species.
Sometimes the flowers or the pattern of flowering provides an indication of what the fruiting bodies will look like, but definitely not always. I recently reviewed some of my photos of the flowers and fruit / seeds of trees and matched them in six species.
Cottonwood trees are either male or female, with different types of flowers. Only the females produce the cottony seeds seen here.
This shrub or small tree is common in parts of Eliza Howell and is attention-getting in both flowering and fruiting seasons.
Bladdernut is another small tree, found in a cluster along only one part of the river in the park (as far as I know). It is easily overlooked and neither the flower nor the fruit stands out.
Black Cherry is a large tree that is easily recognized both by its flowers and by its fruit. It is a magnet for birds during fruiting season.
I am not certain of the precise species of this chestnut, but it is not the historical American Chestnut. I have often thought that, if one didn’t know this is a chestnut tree, the flowers would not lead one to make the connection.
The seeds, beechnuts, are small and, though numerous, can easily be missed unless one is close to the fruiting branches. I am aware of only one mature beech tree in Eliza Howell that has branches low enough for this kind of look.
There is an old saying that “a tree is known by its fruit,” suggesting that one should not go by appearances but by results. From my perspective (wanting to recognize and appreciate the trees in all seasons), I hope to know trees by their flowers as well as by their fruit, just two different seasons in their annual cycle.