I know that spring has “sprung” when the street in front of my house becomes covered with cottonwood catkins. Our neighborhood has many cottonwoods, poplar, willows, birches and aspen trees: all catkin-loaded! And spring is definitely here.
The catkin is is a strand of tiny unisexual flowers, blooming on many species of trees. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, but the blooming catkins are lovely, though very short-lived. Catkins rely on wind to spread their pollen, and we have certainly had the wind helping out. After the female flowers are fertilized, the male catkins wither and drop.
Each species of tree has its own habits and forms, which are interesting to contemplate. The brief beauty of the catkin-bearing trees hearlds early spring, a welcome sign of greenery to come!
The word catkin is derived from the Dutch katje, meaning "kitten", because it resembles a kitten’s tail. Enjoy this brief display which hints of Springtime!