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Published: Saturday, 3/28/2009

Blossoms from above: The forest floor is not the only place to find spring blooms

Tulip tree flower
Tulip tree flower
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Things are looking up in the spring, literally, if you search overhead instead of just underfoot for those colorful, diverse blooms of the season.

Yes, trees produce flowers. Some are spectacular and well-known, while others are barely noticeable. But every seed of autumn starts as a bud, then a blossom of some sort in spring.

Keep an eye out for tree flowers as you walk through the woods this spring, says Greg Smith, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Forestry.

Flowers will be emerging in the woodland canopy and on treetops along field edges over the coming month or so.

Black cherry blooms Black cherry blooms
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And with 120-plus species of native trees in Ohio, searching for tree flowers can pleasantly enhance and expand woodland walks aimed at spying popular wildflowers that carpet woodlot floors and fields.

Trees reproduce naturally by seeding, sprouting, or both, Mr. Smith said.

In order to make seeds, like acorns or buckeyes, trees produce flowers. Flowers are dormant over the winter in buds with the leaves, and pop out in the spring. Tree flowers are found in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and smells. After they are pollinated, the flowers produce seed.

A pair of binoculars is a great aid on spring floral outings. They can be used conventionally to examine tree blossoms on high, or simply turned around and used as a magnifying glass for detailed closeups of violets, spring beauties, and other wildflowers in meadows and on the forest floor.

Flowering blackhawthorn Flowering blackhawthorn
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Black cherry trees have a drooping cluster of flowers that are sweet-smelling and often covered with bees, Mr. Smith noted. The tulip tree is so named because of its rather large, showy yellow and orange flower. Dogwood has a brilliant white flower and is easy to see since it is a small tree that grows in the forest under story or along edges.

Even white pine flowers are noticeable during summer months due to their large clouds of wind- blown pollen. Pine flowers

look like mini cones. Some flowers, like on oak trees, take a keen eye to spot.

We often get requests for tree identification books. I often refer folks to look for field guides by Peterson, Audubon, Golden Guides, or something similar available at most bookstores. These books are well illustrated and often include flowers and seeds for comparison.

For other tree questions, urban foresters and private lands foresters of Ohio Division of Forestry are available to assist communities and landowners with tree and woodland care. Visit ohiodnr.com/forestry for more information.

Contact Steve Pollick at: spollick@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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