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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 - May 08, 2015

From: LUFKIN, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Trees
Title: Brownish-gold worm-looking things on loblolly pines
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a large loblolly pine that each spring drops thousands of brownish-gold "worm" looking things (about 1/2 to 1" long). Do they have a name and what is their purpose?

ANSWER:

These are the pollen-bearing male (staminate) cones or strobili (occasionally called 'flowers") that will fertilize the female (pistillate) cones to produce the larger mature cones with seeds on the Pinus taeda (Loblolly pine).  Read the "Reproduction and Early Growth" section under Life History in the article from the USDA Forest Service manual and the webpage form Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and here is a description from The Gymnosperm Database.

Below are some photographs from our Image Gallery of the male cones on loblolly pines

 

From the Image Gallery


Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda

Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda

Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda

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