Thursday, August 23, 2012

Male and Female Blooms? What's the difference?

It all finally makes sense!

Everything I had ever read just seemed like gibberish:

"It's so easy to tell the difference!"

"The blooms with a bulbous base are the females."

Yeah, so... since planting my first squash varieties this spring, I had never been able to tell the difference between male and female blooms on a squash.  They all looked the same to me.

I was really beginning to feel like an idiot.  

If it was so easy, why couldn't I tell the difference?  Was I really that inept at spotting changes?  I mean, I always did pretty well on those games in which you spot the differences in two photos, so I couldn't be that bad... right?

Well, it turns out that my problem came from the fact that everywhere I looked, nobody had ever shown a picture of the difference between male and female blooms.  I mean, I'm sure they're out there... I just hadn't seen any.  This, of course, makes all the difference in the world.

Here's a picture of the main stem of my crookneck squash that has been in continual bloom since the last time I mentioned it.  The flower buds grow out from that central stem.

male and female flowers with a male in the foreground

The flower that's near to opening is male.  Indeed, most of the flowers on my squash are male.

All I had ever seen were male blooms!  

That's why I couldn't tell a difference... there wasn't any difference to speak of!

This squash, however, is starting to produce female flowers.  They're the ones with - sure enough - a bulbous base, as indicated in the picture below:

female squash blooms with bulbous base

It all finally makes sense!

My grey zucchini had only produced male blooms before its untimely death, which is why everything always looked the same.  Even with my cucumbers, which have been producing fruit, I had only seen them after the blooms had already opened, due to their location in the wild area of the yard, so didn't have any point of reference.

This crookneck squash, however, has not yet opened its female blooms.  Because I planted the seeds in a container, I've been able to note its progress daily, which is why I can finally see how different the two blooms look.

As you can imagine, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I discovered that there's nothing wrong with my ability to see a difference that's so obvious to people.

Have you ever been frustrated with your inability to see something that's perfectly obvious to others, only to find out that it was simply because you had never been exposed to the difference in question?  Was your relief as great as mine?

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