TRR photo by Ed Wesely
An American elm flower (Click for larger version)

American elm flowers (Mid April). Early wind-pollinated flowers, such as those of the American elm, are already setting seed. Elm flowers generally occur in clusters near the tips of twigs, but for scale I placed the single flower in my photograph on a penny. Tiny black sacs in the picture once held pollen; an arrow points to a developing elm seed or “samara.”

Our first encounters with wind-pollinated tree flowers are often after they whither and litter town streets and sidewalks. That such fragments can create the acorns and winged seeds of maples and elms seems remarkable, but no more so than the precise timing that unfolds each flower before the earliest leaves.

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