Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sweet tree.

"The air smells like honey!"

That's what our daughter said when we got out of the car. The reason was all around us, the resin wafting from the buds and unfurling leaves of black cottonwood.

Cottonwoods are generous, messy trees.

Leaf bud and female catkin.

In early spring they drop sticky bud scales and dead-caterpillar male catkins. Later on, the female catkins produce masses of fluffy seeds that make snowdrifts next to curbs.

They grow to impressive sizes, creating wildlife habitat while living--

Bald Eagle nest (modest size by eagle standards).

here, notably, nesting platforms for Bald Eagles. The reaching hand arrangement of upper branches allows for the construction of some colossal nests.

After death cottonwoods continue to provide, with day-roosts for bats, and foraging, nesting or hibernating spots for any number of vertebrates and invertebrates beneath peeling sheets of bark . Most conspicuously, dead cottonwoods develop into prime snags for cavity nesting birds and mammals.

How many generations of Northern Flickers have nested here? A true family tree.

But this comes much later on. For now, they sure smell nice. I love the smell of cottonwood in the morning. It smells like...spring.


Karen said...

Much better than Napalm/victory, for sure! Nice post. I don't know if we have any cottonwoods nearby, I'll have to look, er, smell for them.

Pablo said...

Contribution for the Festival of the Trees?