An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Pussy Willows Emerging

2-12-15 026Even with sub-zero temperatures and feet of snow on the ground it is possible to find signs, such as pussy willows, that spring really is around the corner. What we call pussy willows are, in fact, the soft, silvery hairs that insulate the emerging spike of flowers, or catkin, within a willow flower bud. A willow catkin consists of all male or all female flowers. The first catkins to emerge in the spring are usually males. The hairs, or “pussies,” that emerge when willow buds first open trap the heat from the sun and help warm the center of the catkins, where the flowers’ reproductive parts are located. This trapped heat promotes the development of the pollen (or in female flowers, the ovules) of the flowers deep within the hairs. Eventually the reproductive parts of the willow flowers – the stamens and pistils – emerge, but until they do, we get to enjoy their silvery fur coats.

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4 responses

  1. What a happy find! I will have to see if I can find any. I love pussy-toes!

    February 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm

  2. What a wonderful photograph and all these years I have been photographing the willows in the water meadows and not knowing all the details you post up here – thank you!

    February 12, 2015 at 7:02 pm

  3. Despite my botanical background, I did not know that those puffs help with warming! Thanks!

    February 13, 2015 at 7:04 am

  4. Pingback: Pussywillow « Partridge, Pine, and Peavey

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