Friday, April 15, 2011

LOOK FOR: Dogwood Flowers

Dogwoods are one native flowering tree that has really made it as an ornamental landscape tree. Trees in sunny spots and the warmer parts of our urban heat island should start blooming soon.

But how closely have you looked at a dogwood lately? There was something very basic about the structure of dogwood flowers that I never realized until I really started studying plants. See if you can guess what it was from this picture:

dogwood (ハナミズキ) #3421
Photo credit: Nemo's great uncle
Those big white petals? Technically they're not really petals at all; they're called bracts. The actual flowers are collected in the center, and have tiny little greenish petals. I'm reminded of a quote by Georgia O'Keeffe, who spent an awful lot of time looking at flowers:

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time.

May we all remember to take the time to look closely this spring!

Elizabeth biking through the dogwoods on the C&O Canal in mid-April