Early spring flowering is well underway at the Arnold Arboretum. Of special note today, are those wind-pollinated species whose flowers are essentially reduced to little more than the structures that produce pollen or seeds (no need for showy petals to attract pollinators). Among temperate woody plants, these early spring wind-pollinated taxa typically have unisexual flowers, and the female flowers have huge stigmas—the better to catch wind-borne pollen. Today, a smattering of red stigmas (why red?—is a question worth asking).
A good-sized silver maple along Meadow Road (Acer saccharinum; 1142-85*A) has a few very low dangling branches that are covered with female inflorescence buds (image lower left) that have just opened to reveal the elongate stigmas that are trolling the wind for pollen. Corylus chinensis (Chinese filbert; 493-37*B) and many of its congeners are also open for business. The small inflorescence buds are still tight (top image), but the red stigmas are poking out (look carefully). Finally, one of the earliest alders to get underway, the Manchurian alder (Alnus hirsuta; 395-97*C), skews a bit on the pink side.
Also in flower now at the Arnold Arboretum: willows (Salix), Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis), Japanese witch-hazel (Hamamelis japonica), the aptly named winter hazel (Corylopsis coreana), and Japanese spicebush (Lindera obtusiloba). And in cone, the very first pink larch seed cones on Larix sibirica are popping out right now. Larch cones in spring are not to be missed!