Saturday, June 6, 2009

Late spring snowfall.

Black Cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa, female catkin (late April).

Early June: Northward migration is mostly a memory. Early flowers have gone to seed, but the flowers of long hot summer have yet to appear -- fireweed, hardhack, goldenrod. This is a changeover time, which this past week could be seen in the air.

Falling like snow, the seeds of Black Cottonwood, forming drifts next to curbs and other barriers.

Christmas card in June.

Black cottonwoods are our tallest deciduous trees, and are common in river valleys and other damp lowlands. They provide nest sites for eagle and heron, and inevitably devolve to spectacular wildlife trees. They are dioecious (male and female catkins on separate trees). The male catkins are only a few cm long, and fall apart relatively quietly in early spring. The much larger female catkins (top photo) continue to swell, and in late spring split open, casting fluffy seeds to the breeze.

Once spent, the catkins are flung too. To stand beneath a tree on a windy day is to be pelted with caterpillars.

Cottonwoods, mid-summer (last year). The messy reproductive stuff is over.

As I was pelted with caterpillars today, I thought, Yes, spring is over. Bring on the summer.


Tatyana said...

Hi Hugh! Thanks for this post, it brought certain memories to me! When I lived in Russia, my city's streets were lined up with cottonwoods. They didn't trim them those days (now they do before these white things appear). So, all air was filled with them. It was so irritating. The girls wearing make-up were upset the most, since their eyes were tearing and the make-up was running down the face! Thanks again!

Hugh said...

Thank you, Tatyana. That's quite an image!