What goes on in a forest might be none of our business. Curious minds, however, always want to know.
In the lower canopy layers of Appalachian forests, a particular tree known as striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) does something that very few trees do.
It changes sex.
Males become females. Females become males.
In academic circles, this phenomenon is known as sequential hermaphroditism. Some plants do it when stakes are high. In the case of striped maple, males become females even if it kills them.
Why does this happen, and what else is known about sex changes in plants?
In the following video, I introduce some important questions and wonder about them aloud. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out!