Project 366 – Post No. 312 – Spruce cones

What is Project 366? Read more here.

If you look at a spruce tree closely you may notice that all of the cones seem to be at the very top of the tree. The reason for this is an interesting life-history adaptation. A single spruce tree carries both female and male cones. Spruce trees, and conifers in general, depend on the wind to reproduce. In the spring, short-lived male cones produce pollen, which is carried to female cones by the wind. Usually, male cones grow toward the bottom of the tree and female cones toward the top, which reduces the chance that polled from the male cones “falls down” on female cones. Self-pollination is a bad thing since it could lead to reduced genetic variability and inbreeding. So if the male cones are at the bottom of the tree, how come the only visible cones are at the top of the tree. As it turns out, while the female cones are large and conspicuous while the male cones are small and inconspicuous.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.