BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Sallow’

#365daysofbiking Scum

May 12th – Again, the local canals were thick with organic scum – not just the usual azolla bloom, which is still persisting but has mostly died back now, but detritus and dead bloom heads from sallow trees that border the canal there.

It looks awful but will soon disperse, and it just one of several reasons the canal forms natural organic layers throughout the year.

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#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 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 Fluffed up

:

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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#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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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…

May 14th – A lovely lunchtime ride into Walsall from work, and I took the canal. The sun was warm, bright and welcoming, the canal alive with wildlife and growth, a green motorway for birds, insects and walkers.

The lilac at Pleck, Sallow at James Bridge and just the air of quiet summer growth was wonderful. A real joy to the heart.

And who did I spot on my return to work in the afternoon? Curled up into a comfy black furry circle, Sam the elderly Kings Hill puss, dozing contentedly in a sun dappled spot, no doubt dreaming of his younger days and soothing his bones in the summer warmth.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

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…