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Aspen “Snow”

5-27-13 poplar fruit 004Even though it snowed in Vermont this weekend, there is something else white and fluffy that is also being blown about, and it doesn’t melt when it hits the ground. The tiny white bits of fluff that are floating in the air are the seeds of aspens (also referred to as poplars), primarily Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), that are borne in capsules that develop along a 3 to 6-inch dangling stem. These former flower clusters, and the capsules and seeds they developed into, are referred to as catkins. The capsules split apart when the seeds are mature, releasing the cottony-tufted seeds that are well-designed for dispersal by the wind. Looking into the fluff-filled sky, it’s not hard to believe that a single Bigtooth Aspen tree can produce over a million seeds.

2 responses

  1. We too had snow in Springfield NH. We also had Aspen snow this morning at sunrise. On my walk just ended, I passed our stand of poplars and the roadside was covered with the beaded six inch strings. Thanks for the timely info.

    Brandt Denniston Sent from my iPhone (603)496-5690

    May 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm

  2. Teresa Cheetham-Palen

    wow! I just went for a run this morning and came around a shady bend where the air was still cool and found Aspen “Snow”. However, I had no idea what it was until I read this post. I felt it and it was cold and wet, but it certainly did not resemble the texture of snow. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.

    May 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm

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