Friday 11 February 2022


We have a hazel tree (Corylus avensis) near our front gate and at present it is covered in catkins. Trees that flower early, before they come into leaf, I always find particularly  attractive.

Hazel, like many of our native trees, are wind pollinated and the catkins are designed to catch the pollen that is carried through the air. This strikes me as a rather random means of fertilisation but many of the plants we depend on, such as grains, are fortuitously successful at wind pollination.

The design of flowers in wind pollinated trees and plants are suitably adapted, as is the case with hazel catkins. Another major factor is that wind pollinated plants produce billions of pollen grains that are much smaller and lighter than found in insect pollinated flowers which considerably improves the chances of success. 

Although we cannot see it, the air is full of tree pollen at this time of the year. Many will feel it, though, if they suffer from hay fever. The season is just getting under way. 

Hazel tree covered in catkins

A closer view of the catkins

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