Spring Connection – Flowering Trees

You’ve probably already noticed them – trees  full of flowers, not leaves! These beautiful trees are heralds of spring . Not long after their blossoms show up on winter’s bare black branches, spring arrives, and green leaves are not far behind.

Today’s post is about flowering trees, found in all shapes and sizes. You’ll see them in neighborhoods, on forest hillsides, around ponds and along streams, not to mention in landscaped areas around shops and offices.

If you live in a state considered to be part of the Southern U.S., you probably live near a Southern magnolia. This stalwart tree has huge, white, fragrant flowers, with up to 12 petals and flowers as wide as 9 inches across. The southeastern U.S. is home to many species of magnolia. Others are grown farther north and planted near homes, including the saucer magnolia with its pink blossoms.

The flowering dogwood is common in my home state of Oklahoma, and is native throughout the eastern United States. This tree is also grown in nurseries, and planted throughout the country. The flower is made up of four petals, but a botanist would tell you that these petals are really ‘bracts’ – or specialized leaves colored differently from a true leaf. In some dogwoods, these bracts are pink in color, rather than the usual white. Other species of dogwood may or may not have these specialized bracts: the rough-leafed dogwood has much smaller greenish white flowers which are difficult to see, while the Pacific dogwood and the Kousa dogwood of Japan, both have beautiful large blossoms. 

The tulip tree, or yellow poplar, is in bloom  here right now. Native to eastern states, this tree is often planted to enhance a landscape in other regions of the country. This flower’s yellow, or pink petals form a tulip-like cup with an orange center.

Many trees are part of a large family whose blossom is cherished, the Rose family. This includes fruit trees like Apple, and Crabapple, Pear, Peach and Plum. Their characteristic flowers have five petals, usually pink or rose-colored. Hawthorns are another tree included in the Rose family. Flowers also have five petals, and may be white, pink, dark rose or white with red patterns, depending on the type of Hawthorn tree.

Serviceberry trees and bushes have flowers with five, white petals, too. Many different species of these trees (some can grow to 50 feet tall) are found across North America.

And it wouldn’t be a discussion of flowering trees if I didn’t mention the cherry tree. Whether it is a choke cherry, a black cherry, or a Canadian or American plum, the beautiful blossoms of these trees are celebrated around the world with festivals.

Take a look around your neighborhood or a nearby park, and make note of the trees  in bloom with flowers right now. Then check back in late May or early June to check out the leaves replacing the spring blossoms. You may be surprised at how many different species of beautiful flowering trees are found around you!

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