I took some time to study the Hammamelis flowers. They are very small and I was surprised to notice that even with a magnifying glass it’s very hard to distinguish at the base of the petals the staminodes, short and reduced to flatened scales. But if you know they are there, you look for them, and finally see them.
Hammamelis mollis (chinese witch-hazel) is a deciduous shrub, sometimes taking the form of a small tree. The leaves are alternate, with short stalks. From the scaly buds the flowers appear in late winter, early spring, in cluster of two to eight flowers, on short stalk along the bare stem. The calyx is divided into four triangular sepals which are curved outward. Alternating with the sepals are four longer ribbon-shaped yellow petals, suffused with red at the base. There are four fertile stamens and four infertile ones, staminodes (which don’t produce pollen, but are modified to produce nectar) and two short styles.
Hammamelis mollis (chinese witch-hazel). Flower morphology, 2020
Sanguine and brown ink on paper
Addisonia, vol 17, NYBG 1922
Gregory J. Anderson and James D. Hill, Many to flower, few to fruit: The reproductive biology of Hamamelis virginiana (Hamamelidaceae) – article in American Journal of Botany · January 2002
Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, The Botanical Garden, vol I, Macmillan 2002
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