When we first bought our place, one of the first things I did was start planting trees. In the first year or two I planted about 75 little white spruce, all starting out life as an 8" high seedling. Most of the first ones are higher than my head now, and one in particular, is nearly double that. The bright green of the new shoots when they burst through the brown scales and start to expand is one of the marks of late May, contrasting with the older dark green of the rest of the tree.
But when I walked by one tree I noticed something different. It's not one of the biggest among the trees, but about 8' tall. It had the green shoots bursting out, but it also had small brown cones and small purple cones (below). I guess I was a little slow, but it took me awhile to work out what I was seeing.
The brown 'cones', not real cones at all, but softer light brown pollen cases, were the male flowers, while the purple cones waiting to be fertilized were the female flowers. It will be interesting to see if any pollen from the brown flowers reach the purple cones and they mature into actual spruce cones. The pollen cases will dry up and disappear, while fertilized cones will grown into the woody cones we're all familiar with. You don't usually see this difference at all, because it happens high up in mature treees, but this is unfolding right before my eyes.