BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘catkins’

#365daysofbiking Prepare to be fluffed

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…

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#365daysofbiking Scum

May 2nd – There are many reasons why the local canals develop an organic, natural scum throughout the year. From pollens to seeds, from tree-mast to algae, all kinds of unpleasant looking but natural detritus develops and dissipates throughout the seasons.

Due to the early spring warmth and extended spring, at the moment there’s a very heavy scum  on much of the local canal, but particularly in the wind-traps around Walsall Wood and Clayhanger. At he moment it’s mostly appearing to be a combination of reedmace detritus, algae, sallow seeds, disintegrated hazel, alder and birch catkins and hawthorn blossom petals. I’ve never seen a scum so heavy at this time of year.

Given time and sun it should dissipate and fade away. but for the moment, it’s quite ugly but perfectly natural.

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#365daysofbiking Waiting for a fluff explosion


April 17th – On the way to work near Greern Lane, Shelfield, I notice the sallows are flowering now, and this is one of the more interesting blooms of springtime.

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 were so well on show today. 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.

For now though in the spring sunshine of a warm, lovely morning – they look like something prehistoric, and in reality, probably are.

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#365daysofbiking Often overlooked

March 15th – One of the nicer, more beautiful and sadly neglected flowers of the spring is the pussy willow. I spotted this one as dusk fell on the Chester Road near Shire Oak.

These complex, pretty catkins start as grey, furry buds and change as they bloom fully to a bright yellow green bay of stamen filaments which are actually fascinating when you look close up.

Sadly, not many folk ever seem to notice…

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August 22nd – Also doing well this year seems to be the alder trees who are fruiting heavily with the catkins profuse.

This hardy, wetland loving tree grows well near the local canals and although not a stunner, is pleasing all year round.

January 31st – While I’ve yet to break my snowdrop duck for the spring (and BrownhillsCommoner sent me a lovely picture of the ones in his garden) there are some spring flowers around, although maybe not conventional blooms.

These catkins are showing well at the moment in Wednesbury, and are a common feature of hedgerows, scrubs and waysides. They are the male flowers of the alder tree, and also occur on the close relative, Birch.

Wind pollinated, these blossoms don’t have normal petals or a flower like structure, but are a lovely, bright feature of late winter and a signpost into spring.

February 26th – One thing I have noticed this year is that the crazy mild and early spring seems to have really benefited the catkins. They are lush and large this year, which seems good. 

Here on the canal at Walsall Wood they’re the largest such crop I’ve ever seen.