Great Balls of Fire


I’ve mentioned before that I had an RHS course lecturer who was keen on quick-fire quizzes of the kind ‘Name 6 blue flowers , 10 herbs etc’ and as I was taking some macro photographs of some rather lovely London Plane tree flowers recently, it got me to wondering if I knew any more trees whose flowers are distinctly ball-shaped. Since I surprised myself by getting to six, I thought that I would pull them together into another little collection of odd horticultural interest (to me at least – see here for previous posts on selections of bark, catkins, muscari, tree-lined avenues and yellow wayside flowers if interested).

So here we start with London Plane:


London plane (Platanus x hispanica) with bright flame-like red hooks

Then, one of my absolute favourites, Paper Mulberry


Paper mulberry (this one is Broussonetia kazinoki) with its pale lilac corona. flailing in an imaginary solar wind …

and its dramatic fruit


which then develop into awesome painted-finger fruits!

Next is Liquidambar:


The Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua) flower is a squirming mass of ‘pink worms’ …


which transform into vicious looking medieval weapons!

The Osage orange can grow up to 15cm in diameter. It is also from the mulberry family.


The Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) is a pretty large fruit – and yes, it is completely green!

The Dove tree/ Hankerchief tree:


White bracts drape protectively around the ball of flowers on the Hankerchief tree, Davidia involucrata


which gradually dries into a very hard brown nut

The Powder Puff tree (small tree/medium shrub):


Calliandra haematocephala seemingly explodes with bright red optical fibre-like bundles

And the whole Mimosa genus


Mimosa (a huge genus) has small powder-puff flowers (often scented) in shades of yellow

Not fiery, but nevertheless possible alternative entries are Viburnum opulus and V. × carlcephalum (which qualify for the ball of flowers, but are more bushy) and, of course, the mulberry tree (which is only marginal because neither the flowers or fruit are strictly ball-like).

Any more ideas?


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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13 Responses to Great Balls of Fire

  1. Volpinablu-Antonella says:

    Amazing flowers!

  2. Tina says:

    Great post and terrific shots–all! How ’bout a couple from Texas: Goldenball leadtree: and American sycamore tree:

  3. Would beech tree flowers and nuts count? Great photos and a fun post, Allison.

    • I loved those quizzes as you might tell! Sorry, but I would say that beech is marginal, in the same category as mulberry, in that neither flower or fruit/nut are truly spherical.

  4. Great post and stunning photos and a reminder to look more closely at nature.

  5. Chloris says:

    All lovely. And what about Azara microphylla or the later flowering and larger flowers of Azara serrata.?

  6. FlowerAlley says:

    Looked at this agsin. Great job.

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