Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Preparations for springtime

HAPPY NEW YEAR
 
 
I know spring may seem a long way off, but all last summer the trees have been preparing for it.  Their buds are full of promise, ready to burst into action.
 
Here we have alder on the left and pussy willow on the right.
 
 
 
The alder twigs carry bunches of unexpanded catkins.  In early spring, about February, these will stretch out and produce pollen to help produce next year's seeds.  You can see last years conelets, still full of seed, on the twigs.  This is an important source of winter food for some small birds.
 
The pussy willow buds are fat and round, like little beads glued on to the twigs.  These will produce the 'pussy' catkins covered in silver hairs, as silky as kittens' fur - hence the name 'catkins.'  Some will turn golden, covered in pollen.  These are the male flowers.  But on female trees, (yes you get male and female trees in some species) the silky buds grow into little spiky fruits that produce the fluffy seeds in late summer.


 


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