BUT the trees are already hard at work on this year’s seeds.
The first blossoms are just emerging.
BUT their cousins the catkins have been out since Christmas.
And this is a wonderful time to explore the catkins with your kids.
And help them discover how catkins – like blossom – allow trees to produce new seeds.
So what exactly is a catkin?
What Is A Catkin?
Basically a catkin is a pollen head – as on any flower – but minus the petals.
And it doesn’t have petals because it is optimised for wind pollination.
All those flouncy pink and white skirts get in the way of spring winds that can spread the pollen.
With no petals, catkins may not be as glamorous but come in all shapes and sizes.
Catkins In All Shapes & Sizes
The catkins on the willow are immaculately fur-like as they shed their protective black caps.
They really do feel like cat’s fur when you stroke them.
Until the pollen heavy stamen stand out so the wind can do its work.
Other catkins – like the hazel – are more like lamb tails dangling in the wind.
But the hazel catkin – amongst others – also has a trick up it’s sleeve.
IT doesn’t just have ONE catkin.
It has TWO different types.
Can you see that cluster of tiny purple stamen at the top?
THAT is actually the female catkin.
Each hazel tree produces BOTH male and female catkins.
BUT the tiny female needs pollination with pollen blown from a different tree.
What Catkins Can You Find?
As you’re out and about keep your eyes peeled for different catkins.
You could hit the park or woods and go on a catkin scavenger hunt.
AND see how many different varieties you can find.
It totally doesn’t matter if you know the names or not.
The important bit is noticing the differences.
And wondering about them …
- Do they hang up or down?
- Are they smooth or rough?
- What colour are they?
- Are there different types on the same tree?
- Are they single or in clusters?
- Do they have pollen on them yet you can rub off?
- Are they ready for the wind to blow through?
AND if you’ve got a magnifying glass.
Or even more wonderful – when you get home – a little microscope.
Have a look at the catkin and the pollen close up.
They are beautiful miniature worlds to be observed.
I do hope you have fun exploring the catkins near you.
And for more nature fun with kids do check out my other nature posts.
And follow my new Facebook page – it’s all about kids enjoying nature.