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Word of the Week: Pistil

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Pistil [PIS-tl] (botany noun): The seed-bearing female organ of a flower

An exciting sign of spring is beginning to happen in High Park right now: silver maple flowers!

Silver maple flowers can be male or female. A female silver maple flower will have reddish clusters of pistils, which are a seed-bearing female flower organ. On the other hand, male silver maple flowers will have a bundle of yellowish-green stamens, which are a pollen-producing reproductive male flower organ.

Silver maples are one of the first trees we see flowering in the spring. Their flowers don’t look the way you’d expect a flower to look; their petals are not very noticeable and they look more like tiny pom-poms. This is because maples are wind-pollinated and don’t need the showy petals to attract insects.

On your next visit to High Park, or even your next neighborhood walk, keep an eye out for silver maple flowers on the branches

PLEASE NOTE: Since silver maple flowers bloom within a few days of each other, make sure to look quickly because the blooms won’t last very long!

If you would like to learn more about the world of trees, check out our “Tree-mendous Trees” Online Naturalist Course for adults!

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