Why Do Trees Flower in the Spring?
Flowering trees can be one of the most pleasing indicators that spring has finally come. Bees buzzing from blossom to blossom, birds chirping and flying tree to tree. Everything comes to life in the spring. Most living things, plants and creatures alike, have a natural life cycle that follows certain times of the year. Trees and those that blossom in the springtime are no exception. But why do trees actually blossom in the spring and not during another season? There are several factors that go into answering this question.
Many scientists dedicate their research to understanding this exact process. Trained and certified arborists, like those at Mr. Tree Services, are among those who are knowledgeable about tree life and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about spring flowering trees. Generally speaking, however, the temperature, amount of sunlight, and the life cycles of other flora and fauna are actors that each have an impact on bringing springtime blossoms to life.
The temperature plays a key role in the flowering of trees. To understand why they flower in the spring, let’s start with what happens in the autumn. As the temperatures drop and the daylight lessens, meaning that warmth from sunshine decreases, the buds of the trees seal up to protect the tree from the cold, concentrating their energy on the health and growth of the internal parts of the trees.
When the temperatures get warmer in the spring, blossoms start to emerge. No longer needing to protect the tree from the cold, the buds and branches that have been dormant throughout the winter start receiving nutrients again. So budding trees are a sign that the weather is warming up in your area.
Trees Reach Their Minimum Cold Requirement
Trees have what scientists call a “minimum cold requirement,” which means that although plants don’t have a human-like measurement of timekeeping, scientists have found that in order for trees to bloom at a certain time, the temperatures need to have reached a cold enough degree and remain there for a certain number of consecutive days. The appropriate number of consecutively warmer days, too, is necessary for waking up the trees after the cold.
Sometimes, you might notice that your flowers have blossomed later in the year than previous springs. This is likely due to temperatures in autumn and winter. It could be a case of having a warmer autumn, which leads to having a later-blooming spring. When the frost hits, it’s crucial in determining when spring flowering trees come to life. Enough cold days to allow for dormancy followed by enough warm days to trigger blossoming is essential.
There is also less light in the autumn and winter. Trees won’t produce buds, flowers, or leaves when there is less sunlight. This means that the production of chlorophyll, the chemical that makes leaves green, slows down too. Less light means that the process of photosynthesis—how plants consume sunlight to produce food for themselves—slows down. This is a form of the self-preservation of energy during colder and darker times of the year. When more sunlight returns, photosynthesis can return in full force, allowing trees to produce flowers and leaves.
Buds Receive Nutrition
As mentioned above, when the cold sets in, a tree develops a temporary protective barrier between the flower or leaf, cutting it off from the food supply in winter when there is less heat, light, and rain. When it warms up again, the protective barrier lifts, allowing branches to feed the buds that will eventually grow into flowers or leaves.
Importance of Pollination
During dormant periods of cold and dark, trees conserve energy. When spring comes, many other creatures come to life too. Dormancy is crucial to pollination because the buildup of energy and resources the tree conserves allows for a burst of energy for the production of flowers to attract pollinators.
Springtime in the life cycle of a tree means that all of the focus is on producing brightly colored blossoms and fragrant aromas that will attract animals, insects, bats, and especially bees. As these pollinators travel from tree blossom to tree blossom, the pollen falls from their bodies and connects with other flowers on other trees. Pollination in the spring ensures fruit and seeds will follow in the summer and fall, allowing the tree to reproduce.
Fruit Tree Blossoms
Many spring flowering trees are actually producers of fruit. In the spring, the presence of sunlight and warmth triggers the sap to flow in the trees. With adequate rainfall, the root systems begin the work of slowly carrying nutrients from the soil up into the body of the tree. Like the bloodstream in a human body, tree sap carries nutrients to all areas of the tree, allowing trees to produce the flowers that will become their annual fruit.
The production of fruit is important to the life cycle of the tree. It attracts animals for reproduction purposes. Animals consume and digest the fruit, and once it has passed through the digestive system, it often ends up on the ground at a distance from the original tree, where it can grow, thus succeeding in the proliferation of that tree population.
Spring Flowering Trees for You
You might be asking, “Which type of spring flowering trees should I plant in my yard?” There are many varieties to choose from, among which are oak, maple, cherry, apple, and dogwood trees. All of these trees produce fragrant, brightly colored flowers each spring. Some of them produce fruit too, which might be another reason to plant them.
Maintaining trees of any kind requires persistent care, some more than others, but with spring flowering trees, you might choose to seek a professional arborist for your tree care needs. If you’re in the Portland, Oregon, area, call Mr. Tree Services for a conversation about how to keep your flowering trees fragrant and healthy year-round, ensuring the aesthetics of your yard are at their best each spring and throughout the year.