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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - December 28, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Inflorescence of the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What kind of flower inflorescence do sycamores have?

ANSWER:

The flowers on Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore), unlike the familiar fruits, are small and inconspicuous. The trees are monoecious, i.e., both male and female flowers, although on different stalks, are together on the same tree. Here is a description of the flowers from the Alabama Forestry Service:

"FLOWERS: Appear on the growth of the season when the leaves are about l/4 developed,
monoecious, borne in capitate heads, staminate and pistillate flower heads on different
stalks; staminate are axillary and dark red; pistillate terminal, greenish, often tinged with
red."

You can see more photos of P. occidentalis, from Ontario Trees & Shrubs.
 

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