Flowering and Fruiting
Small green conelets begin to develop by early fall or late summer on ovulate trees but grow very little during the winter. They are borne terminally on axillary branches of the new scale-leaves but do not become conspicuous until late February to early spring. At this time the microsporangial walls of the staminate conelets split longitudinally, discharging the mature pollen. Pollen grains lodge at the end of the micropyle of the many ovules in the conelet. Pollination is complete in a few days when the conelet closes.
Growth of the pollen tube is slow at first but becomes active by late May or mid-June. Fertilization occurs in June and the mature embryo is full grown in about 2 months, anytime from late July to mid-November, depending on location. As the ovulate cone develops, greenish fruit-scales form the outer fleshy protective coat of the berrylike cone. Cones change color from green to greenish white to whitish blue and finally to bluish as the season progresses.
Each cone or fruit contains one to four (occasionally more) rounded or angled brownish seeds, 2 to 4 mm (0.08 to 0.16 in) long, often with longitudinal pits. The seed coat has a thick and bony outer layer and a thin, membranous inner layer (23,47).
- Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm
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