A Tree's Hidden Beauty  

We all marvel at the beauty of flowering trees. Somewhere in our subconscious we know that almost all plants flower in some form or other

but when we think of trees in flower we automatically think of the very showy ones such as an Ivory Silk Lilac or the many fruit trees that provide a great burst of colour in the spring. The other trees in our neighbourhood or back yards are there for their shape or their shade and we rarely think of them flowering.

Crab Apples are Brilliant The many varieties of flowering Crab Apples provide much of the home gardens palate of Flowering Trees. From light pink through to dark ruby red there is a colour or size to suit most gardener’s needs. Some even flower every other year although I don’t know how they keep track.

What If We Look Closer! That beautiful Crimson King variety of the Norway Maple is planted for its majestic shape and the rich burgundy colour of its leaves. It is an angiosperm, a member of the class of flowering plants, so it must have some flowers. The careful observer will notice that it is covered with thousands of tiny coloured flowers before the leaves emerge. The casual passer by will just think the leaves are emerging but a closer look will reveal the multi coloured petals of its flowers. It’s one of the best of the flowering trees that have their hidden beauty in plain site. Because of the contrasting colours of the yellow and red flower petals and the deep burgundy of the surrounding sepals that protected those flowers.

What Other Colours Are There Although the basic Norway Maple is being disparaged these days as being a bit of a weed and a sun and water hog, it has an amazing floral display in the spring. A light green, almost chartreuse, mass of millions of tiny flowers make this tree shimmer in the sunlight. Those flowers, of course, produce all the seeds that start growing everywhere we don’t want them but that doesn’t stop them from being a real joy to appreciate for the week or so that they are in bloom. We often notice this tree's hidden beauty when they have finished blooming as their thousands of fallen flowers cover sidewalks, roads and cars with those tiny chartreuse droplets.

A Decorative Tree's Hidden Beauty As a focal point in my front yard there is a Camperdown Elm. A somewhat uncommon tree with a large contorted and weeping shape. The tree is noticeable all year as an interesting specimen. It also has its hidden beauty. Clusters of tiny red and green flowers emerge before any of the leaves and are quite delightful to anyone who cares to get up close and personal with it. Those flowers produce a mass of light green seeds that change the entire appearance of the tree and as they disperse the tree changes again as it its dark green leaves finally make their appearance as the third and final act.

Even Stranger Flowers In a different part of the world, those of us who confess to an addiction to chocolate, will find an even stranger flowering tree. The Cacao tree produces the fruit that eventually tantalizes our taste buds. As all fruit must develop from some form of flower we look for the flowering cycle of Cacao and discover its strange habit of producing its flowers directly out of the woody branches. The leaves are happily growing at the ends of those branches and seem totally unrelated to the trre's hidden beauty of flowers and fruit that develop beneath their canopy. Strangely beautiful and eventually delicious.

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