Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Conifers and Cones

Here's a young Red Cedar to bring us in on a clarification of cones. It seems that the 'berries' illustrated in an earlier Red Cedar post might better be called cones. Whether male or female, it's common to refer to conifer reproductive components as cones. Cones for conifers. Makes sense. Of course, like anything else, there are exceptions. The berry-like female cones of the yew are called arils.

I'm familiar with Eastern White Pine and Pitch Pine female cones but I never really considered genders. Now that I think about it, I do remember the White Pine's male cones. When the wind blows, the pollen can come off in thick yellow clouds.

The Red Cedars are dioecious--there are separate male and female plants. I'll be on the lookout for a male Red Cedar. I remember seeing a group about twelve feet tall and I think only some of them had female cones.

Plant biology is so interesting! Here are a couple of books from my library that are extremely informative and entertaining:

Plant Form by Adrian D. Bell with drawings by Alan Bryan. The line drawings are absolutely wonderful--beautiful detail with stippling that I admire so much. There is also a lot of excellent photography by the author.

Introductory Plant Biology by Kingsley R. Stern. I don't know that I'll ever get through it all but there are plenty of color photos and illustrations.

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