An Ode To Catkins

An Ode To Catkinsfeatured

One of the first signs of spring are the arrival of catkins on trees and shrubs.  What is a catkin?  It’s actually a flower, which can be either wind pollinated or insect pollinated.  The word catkin comes from the Dutch word for kitten, “katteken”, because the flowers are long and cylindrical and look like a kitten’s tail.  Catkins form on these trees:  oak, alder, birch, poplar, beech, hornbeam, sweet chestnut, hazel, and willow.  Here is a photographic tour of the catkins blooming in my yard right now:

First, Salix (willow).  This is Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’ (see my previous post on pink pussywillows.)  These pussy willow catkins started pink, turned gray, and now are yellow, fluffy, and covered in pollen.  The shrub is buzzing with mason bees right now, as these are insect pollinated catkins.Willow catkinwillow catkinwillow catkin

The next catkins are on one of the more interesting trees in my yard.  It is a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, i.e., a contorted filbert (Hazelnut) tree.  My variety is rare due to the red/maroon foliage and pink catkins.  It is Coryllus avellana ‘Red Majestic’.  This is a slow growing tree, and I love the gnarled branches.  In 10 years, this tree will be amazing.  I planted it as a tiny starter about 6 years ago.Harry Lauder's Walking Stick 'Red Majestic' CatkinsHarry Lauder's Walking Stick 'Red Majestic' CatkinsHarry Lauder's Walking Stick 'Red Majestic' Catkins

Lastly, the birch catkins have started everywhere.  I don’t know the variety of my birch, but I have three of these trees.  Birch catkinsBirch catkinsBirch catkins

Enjoy your ultra early signs of spring!


About the author

Stephanie Koski

Stephanie is a retired physician, mother to three boys, and an avid gardener with many hobbies and interests. She lives outside of Salem, Oregon, in the mid-Willamette Valley.
Stephanie does all of the photography and writing for this website, and all content is original and copyrighted.

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