How Plants Mate: Upcoming Program

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Join us for our next OSU Extension Secrest Arboretum workshop on Thursday, May 23, titled “How Plants Mate”. The program will be from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, including an “excellent” lunch, though my now OSU Horticulture graduated student Sean Camilleri would say: “I’ll be the judge of that” – gotta love it.  We will have an extensive Flower ID lineup, a Fruit and Flower walk, and microscopic views of flower structure using the new Secrest Welcome and Education Center technology for viewing microscopic views on screen. Plus plentiful presentations and pontifications.


Daylily flower with stamens and pistil evident
Daylily flower with stamens and pistil evident


OSU Extension’s Dr. Ann Chanon, who’s done academic papers on buckeye hybridization, Secrest Arboretum curator Jason Veil with academic degrees including plant collections curation, and Jim Chatfield will be the teachers and learners along with all of you present. Registration is available today at and will be $40. Let’s go to the non-Jeopardicized questions: Answers to be explored on May 23 – and a few herein.


Male cottonwood flowers
Even male cottonwood flowers are beautiful against a blue sky 


What is the difference between dioecious and monoecious plants? What plants are which and why does it matter for practical horticulture? Is having male and female plants in the same planting enough for successful fertilization to occur?  How do apple flowers differ from filbert flowers, both of which have male and female flowers on the same plant? What is considered a perfect flower? A complete flower? What are the four floral envelopes and what are they called? (The calyx made up of sepals, the corolla made up of petals, the androecium made up of stamens, the gynoecium made up of the pistils – stigma, style and ovaries).   


Harvard glass flower exhibit
Check out the thousands of glass flowers at Harvard to learn more about flower parts. Start with the Secrest program on May 23.


What are some examples of modified leaves for plants? What did Goethe call a flower? Do potatoes have flowers and fruits? )Yes, but we do not eat them!) What is a ripened ovary? What is double fertilization? Why are tomatoes defined as fruits by botanists? Why are tomatoes defined as vegetables by others? What is the fleshy, juicy, delicious, part of a strawberry? What are the small, brown, grain-like structures on the outside of this fleshy part? What’s up with cashews, bananas?  


Well, I did not really take this picture myself! This is the one image that I took from the public site by googling. Would remove my logo on this one if I knew how. BTW, the seed-like structures on this juicy red strawberry receptacle, the tip of the peduncle, are really fruits, not seeds.


Glass cashews at Harvard
Glass cashews in the Anacardiaceae at Harvard


What is anemophily and entomophily, and what implications does this have for insecticide use? What about zoophily and hydrophily? What is a nectar thief? (Takes nectar without facilitation pollination). Is a nectar thief necessarily counterproductive to pollination and fertilization? What is a pollen tube? What do the botanists call the alternation of generations for a moss – a fern – a flowering plant? What are Darwin and others talking about with contrivances such as pseudo-aggression and pseudo-copulation of orchids?



What is an Angiosperm? A Gymnosperm? A spermatophyte (Seed plants, comprising of Angiosperms and Gymnosperms). What is the pteridiphyes and bryophytes? Do pines have flowers? Do ginkgoes have fruits? What does the term polygamodioecious mean? There’s a show-stopper, or is it a show-starter?



What regulates the various sizes of Golden Delicious apple trees: (dwarf, semi-dwarf, standard)? Can lilacs be grafted to privets? (They can, and importantly they are in the same family – the Oleaceae, or olive family). To weigelas? Why one and not the other? What is a plant family? Are privets and lilacs in the same family? Which plant family has genera with six stamens, two pairs of tall stamens across from each other and two shorter, single stamens across from each other? (It is the Brassicaceae – the mustard family, once called the Cruciferae.) Why the change of the family name?


Fire pink and chickweed flowers
Plants in the Caryophyllaceae (the pink family) such as the fire pinks and the chickweeds in this image are known for their cleft petals.



What causes a mast year? Why do some crabapples sometimes have unusually small leaves and unusually high numbers of fruits in the same year? (It has to do with resource allocation for plants: reproduction is energy-costly). Is it easy to cross species of buckeyes? To cross bottlebrush buckeye with red buckeye? To create a pink bottlebrush buckeye? What is the relationship of horsechestnuts to buckeyes? Is a horsechestnut related to chestnuts? Why are most woody ornamental plants asexually propagated? – or are they?  


Pawpaw flower
Another question: What is this "lurid purple flower, rarely seen by the unitiated" in the words of Michael Dirr?


Pawpaw fruit
It's a pawpaw. And this is the ripened ovary of that pawpaw flower that is its fruit. Which tastes delicioius.


Pawpaw fruit with seeds
And that pawpaw fruit  surrounds this cool-looking seed.


And again the question that has always nagged at you – what does the term polygamodieocious mean?  Well, maybe it matters not to you. But how about this – what plants attract hummingbirds and why?  That’s more practical. This and a thousand more questions will be discussed in our class of “How Plants Mate”. 

Azalea and rhododendron flowers
The genus Rhododendron will be on display on May 23 at Secrest with beautiful plants flowering. Here, note that most rhododendrons have ten stamens while most azaleas have five.


Katsuratree male flowers
It is easy to miss the dioecious flowers of katsuratree. Here is a male flower.


Female katsuratree flower
And here is a female katsuratree flower, with some old fruits as well.


Note:  Paul Snyder will not be teaching this time around, as he and wife Jacoby will be tending the new product of their own holy mate-rimony, their new baby girl.



Up next in this particular series: on July 2  -  Plant Families III (Paul will be there for that one), then Plant Parts Exposed in the Fall.  Up next overall in the OSU Extension Secrest series is Annuals and Perennials with Pam Bennett and Matt Shultzman on June 27. 


Daylily fruits and seeds
The seeds of learning are displayed from this daylily fruit 


Enjoying strawberry fruits
And the fruits of learning are a wonder