Field Guides >  Catkins

Lets meet our most common catkins

Hello! In this guide, we will introduce you to some of our most common catkins and help you learn a little bit about them. Are you ready? Let’s get started …

A little bit about catkins

Did you know catkins are actually flowers? In fact, catkins are made up of tens or hundreds of little, tiny flowers and their proper name is an inflorescence. Not all trees have catkins, and some, like aspen, have catkins that grow really high up on the tree so you might not realise they even have any. Then, there are trees whose catkins you cannot miss – like hazel. Some are round and fluffy, like willow, while others are long soft and dangly – like birch. Then, immature and mature catkins can look quite different. The young, immature catkins are often short, tough and stubby – in contrast to their soft, fluffy older selves.

As any flowers, there are two types – masculine and feminine. Some trees, such as willow, have their male and female flowers on different trees (these are called dioecious), while others, such as alder, have both genders on the same tree (called monoecious). To reduce cross pollination, the male and female flowers of monoecious trees might mature at different times, or the female flowers will grow nearer the top so they are not pollinated by the pollen clouds of the male flowers below.

The catkins you are most likely to spot on your nature walks, are alder, aspen, birch, hazel, poplar and willow. Oak flowers also grow in a catkin, although they might not look typically catkiny!

At the moment, not all the catkins are shown here. I hope to illustrate and add them soon x

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