This Tree Can Change Its Sex

Striped maple leaves (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

10 August 2021

Years ago when I learned that Jack-in-the-pulpit can change its sex from male to female and back again, I accepted this as the odd behavior of an odd flower. So I was stunned to learn that the striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), a common understory tree in the Laurel Highlands, can change sex, too.

The striped maple’s current sex is evident in its flowers. These are male.

Striped Maple male flowers (photo by Rob Routledge, Sault College,

How does it change and when does it decide to do it? Adam Haritan describes the mystery in his 8-minute video at Learn Your Land.

p.s. They are called striped maples because their bark is striped.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons and Bugwood; click on the captions to see the originals)

1 thought on “This Tree Can Change Its Sex

  1. I love Striped Maple. This is one of my favorite trees. I always look for it when we go hiking in the Laurel Highlands. It’s so easy to identify with its huge leaves and striped trunks. I find the striping more dramatic on the little trees, really almost bushes. I don’t know why, this tree makes me smile whenever I see it.

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