"Wow, trees have sex?" Jennifer Blake-Mahmud experiences this reaction often, usually followed directly by the question: "But why don't you study the sex lives of animals?" To the biologist, who works at Princeton University in New Jersey, not an option, because she finds: "Plants are extremely exciting!" And a particularly exciting species is the striped maple.
Acer pensylvanicum has been Blake-Mahmud's main field of research for six years. According to their most recent study, which was published in April in the journal "Annals of Botany", 54 percent of the maple trees examined change their sex every four to five years - some of them even switch twice from male to female and vice versa during this period. But why are there plants that are capable of something like this?