Week of June 4, 2023 – June 10, 2023

Sunny Guyette Staff Member and Environmental Educator

by Sunny Guyette, Environmental Educator

Have you noticed a bunch of white fluff in the air? It’s not all from dandelions, most of it is from Eastern Cottonwood trees or Populus deltoides. You may know these trees for their heart shaped leaves that shimmer in the wind and rough bark!

Many people mistake this “fluff” for dandelion fluff or pollen, but it is the seeds of the Cottonwood trees. Cottonwoods start producing seeds when the trees are 5 to 10 years old. They produce up to 48 million seeds per year and are dispersed through wind, but the conditions have to be just right in order for the seeds to germinate, not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, and not too dry. Seed dispersal usually occurs in June and July in our area, but with all of this warm weather we have been having the trees have gotten a head start!

Next time you see Cottonwood fluff, try and follow it as far as you can go or as long as it stays floating. Will it continue on, fall and get picked up by the wind again, or will you be able to come back to a Cottonwood sapling one day?