Monday, March 20, 2017

There is beauty all around

This flower-like cluster will turn into a pinecone. Pinecones have their own beauty, but how many of us have noticed these clusters? These are actually male pinecones. Here is an explanation of the process from Pennsylvania State University.
One of the most fascinating things i found out about pine trees is their reproductive methods. Unlike most trees which flower in order to reproduce, conifer trees (all trees that produce cones for reproduction) actually have two different kinds of cones, males and females. The male cones, which are much smaller than female cones, are responsible for spreading mass amounts of pollen to the wind. If you are a Pennsylvania native, you have no doubt walked outside in the spring only to find everything covered in a thin layer of yellow dust. 
This is pollen released from the male cones looking for unfertilized female cones. As for the females, they begin as hard, tightly compacted cones with unfertilized seeds safe between closed scales. When the female cones begin growing, the scales open up slightly to allow the males pollen to reach the seed and begin the fertilization process. The scales close back up, and for the next three years they remain closed as the seeds inside grow and reach maturity. After three years, the fully grown female pinecones re-open and allow the fully grown seeds to be taken by the wind or animal in order to find soil in which it can germinate and grow into a pine tree sprout.
 When we saw these male pinecones, we also saw that our car was covered with pollen. I picked one of these up off of the ground and showed it to my two-year-old granddaughter and ask her what that was. Although she was only two years old she immediately said that it came from a pine tree. Some of us notice what is going on around us and others do not.

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