Fluff Like Snow in June

Pile of cottonwood fluff in the hand (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

9 June 2022

It usually “snows” in late May in Pittsburgh but this year it happened in early June.

On 3 June a light breeze carried snow-like fluff above Nine Mile Run in Frick Park. I found a source in this open catkin that had fallen on the trail.

Eastern cottonwood pods burst open, Frick Park Nine Mile Run, 3 June 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Another had not fully opened before it fell.

Eastern cottonwood female catkin gone to seed, Frick Park Nine Mile Run, 3 June 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Both came from an eastern cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides) whose leaves look like this. There are only a few of cottonwoods in the Nine Mile Run valley but their seed dispersal is prodigious.

Eastern cottonwood leaves (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Pittsburgh is barely inside the eastern edge of the cottonwood’s range so the trees and their fluff are not common here. Read more about them in this vintage article.

(photos by Kate St. John and from Wikimedia Commons)

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