April 20th – I see on the canal near Walsall Wood that the sallow trees are coming into blossom. These spiny female catkins will soon start spewing huge amounts of fluff.
Sallow or goat willow is a member of the wider willow family, and grows profusely hereabouts. After the initial pretty male catkins have passed – pussy willows – then come the female catkins that you can see here. Once these peculiar green flowers pollinate, they generate wind-borne seeds in a few weeks: these evolve in the form of a large cloud of fluff that for a few days will coat the canal, towpaths, woodland paths, verges and road margins.
Sallows are not the only willow to do this peculiar thing, but they are certainly the largest group to do it hereabouts.
Bizarre, but fun…