Pollen can wreak havoc with the health of people who have allergies as it tends to worsen the symptoms. If you have been sneezing, wheezing, itching, having congestion, and more symptoms of an allergy lately, it could be because the season of catkins falling from the trees is invading your backyard.
Catkins are elongated clusters of flowers, and they are mostly one sex flowers – the male gender. These male flowers shed pollen when the season arrives. This can lead to suffering for the people with allergies and have them wondering – when do catkins stop falling?
If you want to know all about it, just keep reading as we have gathered all the information you need to know about the season of catkins, when do catkins stop falling, and more detail.
When Do Catkins Stop Falling?
Many trees bear catkins on their branches. Some of them include birch, willow, hickory, sweet chestnut, oak, and sweet fern. A few trees only have male flowers on their branches that release pollen, while some others, like oak trees, have male and female flowers on different areas of the branch. These trees with both genders of flowers on the same plant are called monoecious.
This is a whole process of flower clusters growing, pollen spreading, and then catkins falling to the ground. The catkins stop falling to the ground only after the whole process has taken place. The time for completing this process can vary depending on several factors. Let’s find out how the whole process occurs and what you can do about the falling catkins.
The Purpose of Catkins
Catkins are the male part of a tree. They are initially green in color and turn yellow-beige when the time for pollination arrives. They are shaped like worms, and the little bumps on the catkins carry small, modified leaves, called bracts. Some catkins, such as those on the pussy willow, also have tiny hairs. These hide the small leaves from plain sight.
Bracts inside the catkins act as attracting bait for insects when insect pollination is required for a plant. Most catkins grow facing downward as plants with catkins are pollinated by wind. By growing in the hanging position, the plant is in an optimal position for the wind to blow away the pollen stored inside the catkins. Pollen is released when the season for pollination arrives.
The female parts of this plant are usually small in size and grow near the base. The wind carries the pollen to the trees with female parts, and this way, the process of reproduction starts to give birth to new trees.
Soon after the pollen has been released from the catkins, they fall from the trees on the ground, cars, and whatever is lying underneath. This is the reason you sometimes may see your car covered in the yellow hue from the trees with catkins.
In some plants, such as the white birch, the catkins may grow erect upwards. While most catkins require wind to spread their pollen to faraway places where at least some could be used for pollination, a few plants also use insect pollination. In the case of insect pollination, fertilization may not take place too far away from the parent plant.
The Season of Growth and fall for Catkins
Different plants with catkins produce flowers and start falling at various times of the year. Most plants with catkins start growing sometime in October to November. They bloom and produce flowers throughout the winter season.
The fall of the catkins starts from late spring and goes on till late summer. You can expect to see the fallen catkins in your yard sometime in February to late May. You might see the distinctive yellow color spread around in your garden, on the car’s windshield, and in other places around the tree.
This fall of the catkins means that the pollen has been spread, and the wind may have taken some of the pollen to the female parts of the plant for the process of reproduction. And since the catkins have done their work, they have started falling to give space to new male parts of the plant for the next reproduction season.
When Do Catkins Stop Falling?
This is a question that bugs every person suffering from an allergy as pollen in the air or even the fallen catkins can worsen your allergy. So, such people would want this season to end as soon as possible. Or it could be that you are just a clean freak and can’t stand the sight of the mess these fallen shells make in your yard or outside your home.
The pollen drop takes place for about three to four weeks, during which the pollen is shed. The fall of the catkins after the pollen has been shed can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the plant and climate of the region. Catkins typically stop falling after four to five days in a few regions, and in other places, the fall can last for a month or more.
Once the catkins have fallen, they are useless to the plant. They can be manually cleared off or left to disintegrate as they will soon turn into dead matter.
What to Do With the Fallen Catkins?
Some people may get OCD seeing all the litter of fallen catkins spread around. So, what should you do about it?
There are a few methods to take care of the fallen catkins. You could rake them, sweep them off, or add them to the compost pile. Most of the time, raking, hauling, and bagging is not necessary as you can depend on the wind to take care of the fallen shells of the tree. You can also use the catkins as mulch for your vegetable garden.
They are edible and won’t cause any harm if any of your pets eat them but make sure you know which tree was responsible for the catkins mess as some of the plants can be harmful to pets as they can cause problems with the stomach.
I hope this clears your query of when do catkins stop falling so you can start planning around it if you have allergies or don’t want the mess. If you have any tips on how to take care of a tree with catkins growing in the area or how to deal with allergies from the pollen.
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