by Neil Carleton
The cool, wet weather last week sure felt like spring again. It brought to mind this year’s spectacular show of fruit tree blossoms, and the heavenly scent that spread through neighbourhoods and across fields. One of the finest examples of the past spring was on Ann Street in Almonte, behind the Presbyterian Church.
Although there aren’t any apple flowers to examine at this time of the year, black-eyed Susans are still plentiful in places. With a dark centre and yellow-orange petals, the colour pattern is simple to our eyes. To an insect’s vision this flower head is a completely different world.
A honeybee can pick out an additional band in the flower’s bull’s-eye. At the center of the target is the nutritional payload of nectar with pollen. Surrounding the dark bull’s eye, a bee sees a broad circle of yellow which extends half way across the petals – the landing strips. Beyond, each petal is a new colour, termed ‘bee purple’ by researchers, that only insects can see naturally. Against the drab background of foliage, which bees would perceive as something like our gray, the flower of the black-eyed Susan would be an easy-to-find beacon.
For a brief time in the lifecycle of an apple tree, the ground beneath the canopy is dusted with freshly fallen petals. In this view, some have slipped down between the grass and clover leaves, while others remain suspended on leaf tips until a gust of wind disturbs them.
Although the history of these twin beauties isn’t known, it’s possible that they were planted for their ornamental qualities. The apple tree is a native of Europe. It’s estimated that there are nearly 1000 varieties now growing in North America.
Thank you to Rick Scholes for nominating this month’s shady character.
Do you have a notable or favourite tree? Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles. You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0. I look forward to hearing from you.
My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee. The contact for the Tree Committee is Ron Ayling, 613-804-4617. In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.
Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.