BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘fluff’

#365daysofbiking – Silken

April 25th – In recent days I recorded the the female flowering of the sallow trees in Walsall Wood. At the Old Cement Works Bridge in Brownhills, the catkins are starting to go to seed.

The spines of the flower heads split and curl away, releasing the downy, silken fluff inside, each one attached to a tiny seed, easily carried long distances on the wind or any moving thing.

A fascinating and beautiful mechanism that will see the area around these trees soon coated in fluffy down.

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#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 Fluffed up

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May 1st – On the McLean Way early in the morning for a change (the old South Staffordshire Railway route from Brownhills to Walsall) I noted at Ryders Hayes that the sallow  seeds were ripe and drifting on the breeze coating everything with fine white downy fluff.

Sallow isn’t the only member of the willow family to do this, nor is it the only species of tree, but it’s always fun to see, if a bit challenging to the airways to cycle through!

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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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July 25th – The thistles are still in flower, but now going over to seed too. This is great for many songbirds like goldfinches who like to eat the seeds, which are spread from the seed heads by the breeze, and to this end are attached to fluffy wind catchers to transport them in the air.

The fluff thistles generate – along with rose bay willowherb, or old man’s beard which is also in seed at the moment, was always called ‘fairies’ when I was a kid, and it was considered lucky to catch a ‘fairy’ on the wind.

They are actually rather beautiful.

May 21st – A weary day at work, but better in myself, I had things to do for work in Tipton, and on my return, rode the canals all the way back to Goscote. 

Another fine day, the sallow fluff – shed from this peculiar tree’s blooms – was making me sneeze and coating everything in a ghostly grey fur. 

It is curious, though. This relative of the willow is clearly having a very good year…

November 25th – On a bright, cold winter day, near the M6 Toll in Great Wyrley, clematis seed heads looking very alien in a forgotten, edge-land thicket.

These fascinate me, as no two have quite the same texture or appearance. I bet these were an absolute riot when they were in flower. I must come here next summer and see.

May 21st – Also out in abundance was the sallow, which is shedding heavily and coating canals, tracks and lanes in clumps of soft fluff.

This isn’t such good news for me, as the damned stuff makes me sneeze, but it is rather fascinating.

If you see you local waterway coated in scum in the next few days, don’t assume the pollution is man-made, it may well be your local trees, doing their fluffy thing…

April 20th – A better day, recovered now. Returning home on the canal near Aldridge, I noticed the swallows are coming into bloom. These green, spiky flowers will in turn turn into seed heads, and spread fluff over the area, irritating noses and car enthusiasts alike. A relative of the willow, they’re fascinating plants with a stunning seeding method.

July 2nd – In Darlaston, a gentle precipitation; sweet-smelling, light, and coating all it touches. It’s pukh.

Pukh is a downy fluff produced by female poplar trees, not unlike the blossom fluff produced by sallows; I noticed today the Owen Street in Darlaston was coated with fuff. I’ve seen it before – Pitsford Street in the Jewellery Quarter used to be swept with clouds of the stuff in a good year, but rarely as uniform and snow-like as this.

It’ll be interesting to see if the rains washed it away.