Saturday, June 6, 2009
Late spring snowfall.
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.
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.