ORLANDO, Fla. – Pinecones are more than just a fall décor item or a chore to pick up around the yard this time of year. Did you know these brown seed protectors can be used to predict the weather? Let’s talk about it.
Pinecones stay on the tree more than 10 years before dropping to the ground. The ones seen most often and collected for arts and crafts are mostly female. The male pinecones are much smaller and often not as showy.
Male pinecones release pollen into the air which drifts through the air until it finds the much larger seed-bearing female pinecones to fertilize the ovules. Seed production can take up to two years and during this time, the pinecone remains tightly shut.
Pinecones are important to the overall tree. Their main function is to keep a pine tree’s seeds located inside safe. Pinecones do this by closing their scales to protect the seeds from cold temperatures, wildfires, wind and even animals that might try to eat them. Pretty neat, right?
If you’ve ever taken a closer look at pinecones, depending on the weather that day, you may have noticed they’re big and open or tightly shut overlapping one another.
Pine cones open up and release their seeds when it is warm and dry. It’s easier for the seed to germinate.
During dry weather, seeds deep within the pine cone are lighter and looser. During this time the seeds are more easily carried off by winds.
Any rise in humidity, like when rain is in the air and the pinecone tightens up giving it the closed and overlapping look. That’s because when the weather is damp the seeds clump together, limiting the distance they will travel from their home.
So there you have it!
When rain is in the air, if you don’t smell the petrichor, just take a look at a pinecone. If it’s shut tight, it’s most likely going to rain. Wide open and it’s most-likely going to be dry. Keep in mind the pinecones, like the weather, can change throughout the day. They adapt to the changing weather around them, much like we do.
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