Insects prefer yellow

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
June 11, 2018

Insects prefer yellow

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Every spring and summer, I keep an eye out for species whose flowers regularly change color, typically from yellow to red. This is especially evident among the buckeyes and horse-chestnuts (Aesculus) where just-opened flowers will have prominent splotches of yellow (to attract insect pollinators) that change to red (upper image; Aesculus turbinata, Japanese horsechestnut; 219-35*A) over the […]

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Billions of buds are opening

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
May 8, 2018

Billions of buds are opening

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Come. Now! There is an urgency to the explosion of billions of buds in the Arnold Arboretum right now. For the better part of a year, this growing season’s leaves and flowers have been encased in the dormant buds of every tree, shrub, and liana, waiting for the appropriate environmental signals to engorge with water, swell, […]

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My favorite flower (this week)

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
July 31, 2017

My favorite flower (this week)

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One of the great delights of walking randomly in the Arnold Arboretum is the unanticipated discovery of a plant heretofore unnoticed. This week, Grewia biloba, a shrub I had never seen in flower, presented itself in full (but subtle) glory. The small white flowers with bright yellow eyes of stamens (pollen-producing structures) are stunning. What appear […]

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Family reunion of tulip trees

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
June 10, 2017

Family reunion of tulip trees

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Imagine not seeing your closest living relative for ten or fifteen million (yes million) years. And on top of that, you and your closest living relative end up on different continents. So much time, so much opportunity for evolutionary divergence. The two extant species of tulip trees, Liriodendron tulipifera (eastern North America) and Liriodendron chinense (eastern and central […]

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Dove tree takes wing

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
May 22, 2017

Dove tree takes wing

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“To my mind Davidia involucrata [the dove tree] is at once the most interesting and beautiful of all trees of the north-temperate flora.” Coming from Ernest Henry Wilson, the intrepid early twentieth century plant explorer for the Arnold Arboretum (and Veitch Nurseries before that), that is some mighty high praise! Right now, our magnificent 1904 (5159*A) […]

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13 reasons to visit the Arnold Arboretum today (or very very soon)

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
May 8, 2017

13 reasons to visit the Arnold Arboretum today (or very very soon)

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Rays of sunshine will appear. Mountain witch alder is in peak flower and extremely fragrant (Fothergilla major 23195*A). Note, these flowers lack petals – you are mostly looking at pollen-producing stamens. Young catalpa leaves are still deep red and emerging from their winter buds (Catalpa fargesii 394-2009*B). Nikko fir pollen cones are yellow – tap […]

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Alders erupt at the Arnold Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
May 3, 2017

Alders erupt at the Arnold Arboretum

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With so much in flower right now at the Arboretum, it is hard to know where to begin or what to focus upon. Indeed, each walk is a chaotic overload of nature’s springtime ephemera. Maples (Acer) with their subtle but magnificent small flowers, chains of yellow flowers on the winter-hazels (Corylopsis), shadbush (Amelanchier), dogwoods (Cornus), […]

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Petal-less flowers at the Arnold Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
April 18, 2017

Petal-less flowers at the Arnold Arboretum

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The beginning of spring flowering has fully launched at the Arnold Arboretum. And this is the perfect weekend to stroll through the collections and see what is on offer. While most of the show revolves around the myriad forms and colors of petals, step off the main path and have a look at a few […]

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Witch-hazels in bloom!

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 28, 2017

Witch-hazels in bloom!

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They said it couldn’t be done: seeing all five extant species of witch-hazel (genus Hamamelis) in flower at the same time (indeed the same day). But, after three weeks of scouting, I have accomplished the impossible. This past Wednesday, with sun and brilliant blue skies warming the flowers (and me), I did it! Starting with the […]

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Botanical fireworks

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
July 5, 2016