…did you know that on some plants there are male and female flowers?
For example have you ever looked really closely at a Corylus avellena ‘Contorta’ stem in early spring? Or even just looked really closely at the common Hazelnut tree that grows in hedgerows?
We have lots of Hazel’s growing in the hedgerows here and most of them host lichen colonies. (Hazel is a very important host for lichens in Scotland.) But it wasn’t until I started taking macro photographs of the catkins and lichen that I noticed something quite interesting. There were 2 very different flowers on each stem!
These little red/pink tuffs really interested me. They were so tiny but ever so intricately shaped. Consequently I inquired on google. Not only did I discover that they were flowers but in fact female flowers! Meanwhile the male flowers are the long yellow catkins which are heavily laden with pollen. Both male and female flowers appear in February when the tree still has bare twisted branches.
Pollination – Male and Female Flowers
- The Hazelnut tree relies on wind pollination to transfer the pollen on the yellow catkins to the red female flowers. In February there are few if any pollinating insects flying as the temperature rarely reaches above 10 degrees centigrade.
- It’s from these little fertilized red tuffs that the flower swells and eventually a hazelnut develops from. Usually you’ll see a few of the brown nuts on my tree in September.
- A Hazelnut tree has cannot pollinate itself. Successful pollination is from neighbouring tree catkins. This is probably the reason why I have few hazelnuts. The nearest tree is across the road in my neighbours garden … but not in the track of the prevailing wind.
Have you noticed these little tuffs before?
“There is a wonderful harmony in the divine Providence and all its disposals, so that the events of it, when they come to be considered in their relations and tendencies, together with the seasons of them, will appear very beautiful, to the glory of God and the comfort of those that trust in him. We are to believe that God has made all beautiful. Every thing is done well, as in creation, so in providence, and we shall see it when the end comes, but till then we are incompetent judges of it” (Matthew Henry 1662-1714).