Provocative, blushing female flowers of the dioecious (male and female flowers on the same plant) Silver Maple (Acer Saccharinum) -- the earliest maple to bloom -- that towers over our Maple Court, glowing in the morning sun, are ready for love. Image x 5.5. Until we took Patrick Chassee's course "Plant Communities" in the Radcliffe Seminars Landscape program awhile back, we didn't even realize maples -- like all angiosperms -- HAD flowers. Click here for a view of the female flowers in context plus fun facts.
"That picture of the maple flowers on your desktop is beautiful," gushes Tuck, venturing that "If they were really that big, they would be a real hit in the florists' trade." Yes. A single cluster would make an entire arrangement. Actual clusters are about 3/4" across.
Lewd and lascivious greenish yellow male flowers (x 3.5) lust after the demure distaff beauties on a nearby branch of the same tree. Actual size of clusters, slightly wider than the females, is 7/8" across.
"The flowers of flowering plants are the most remarkable feature distinguishing them from other seed plants," says Wikipedia:
Flowers aided angiosperms by enabling a wider range of evolutionary relationships and broadening the ecological niches open to them, allowing flowering plants to eventually dominate terrestrial ecosystems.
Not just another pretty face.
Detail of "Banquet Still Life with a Mouse by Abraham van Beyeren." (1667, oil on canvas, County Museum of Art, Los Angeles)
The male flower clusters' voluptuousness called to mind Abraham van Beyeren's sumptuous "Banquet Still Life with a Mouse." Click here for the full glory (and to find the mouse) of this masterpiece of the 17th-century Dutch genre known as pronkstilleven or "ostentatious still life" [thank you, Google!] "portraying showy luxury items that had been fashioned especially to delight the eye," writes Susan Koslow in a 1989 Art Journal review.
We love the contrast between the pistillate flowers' exquisite refinement . . .
. . . and the unkempt, seedy appearance of their staminate suitors. What does she SEE in him?
Update: See following post for the answer.
Update II: More insights on Acereacean bedroom behavior in "Oh Those Sexy Red Maples," winterwoman's fascinating, fact-filled and stunningly illustrated post on Silver Maple's fun-loving first cousin, Acer rubrum.