Angiosperms Gone Wild!

Asian Pear Blossom

As I drive around the area, I’m amazed at all of the color and beauty that’s on display. Rodgers and Hammerstein might have written that June is bustin’ out all over, but here in PA, March is doing a pretty good job as well.

The variety is amazing. I’m seeing all kinds of flowering trees: magnolia, cherry, Bradford pear, quince, and most recently, eastern redbud and dogwood. The spring bulbs are up and blooming. Yesterday I even saw a bearded iris in a sunny, protected spot. The spring weeds are putting on quite a show. Even the less obvious blossoms of the oak are doing a good job of coating my car with pollen. It’s amazing how many plants are blossoming.

Eastern Redbud

All of these blooming plants are of the class angiosperm. Angiosperm means “covered seed” and these vascular plants produce seeds in a closed ovary or fruit. The other major class of seed producing plants is the gymnosperm (“naked seeds”). These plants produce seeds that aren’t protected by an ovary but are usually encased in a woody cone. Gymnosperms include pine and fir trees.

While gymnosperms are nice additions to the garden, angiosperms are the real show-offs. Their blooms set them apart from other plants. Angiosperms make up more than 80% of all plant species; within many gardens, they make up close to 100% of the plants.

Forsythia

Angiosperms’ one mission in life is to reproduce and that means flowers. I never cease to be amazed by these plants. In the springtime, the wild, radical, no-holds-barred abundance of nature is on full display. Think of the thousand or more blossoms on a single flowering tree – it’s overwhelming! No wonder angiosperms fill most gardens. When the time and conditions are right, angiosperms do their thing: they begin the process of producing seeds in a closed ovary. And the first step in that process is a flower.

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