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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Quirky, cauliflory, Cercis

I've noticed a tree in my neighborhood that has rosy-red blossoms that seem to be sprouting right out of the tree trunk. Is this normal?


I can't be sure about what tree you saw without more information, but it sounds as if you may have seen a redbud, or Cercis. This tree does produce flowers that may grow from the tree's trunk. (It also flowers in the more expected way on branches.) This phenomenon is called "cauliflory," well-illustrated by the website of Wayne's Word. Carob and cacao trees also have this attribute.

Wisconsin Master Gardener Program website also has an article by Susan Mahr (posted December 17, 2007) about this trait. Contrary to what one might think, cauliflower is not cauliflorous. The article explores possible advantages of cauliflory, such as the ability to bear heavy fruit (on a stout trunk instead of weak new growth), and enhanced cross-pollination potential.

Date 2017-08-24
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May 31 2018 13:14:08