"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 3, 2017

Snow in June

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park
If you look across our marina you might think it's snowing...snow in June? The June snows are white and fluffy, but warm and cottony rather than cold and crystalline. The snows of June consist of “cotton” from the cottonwood trees: small bits of cotton-like fibers enclosing a small green cottonwood seed. It's the trees distribution agent, allowing the seeds to be dispersed as they are blown in the wind. 

Sometimes, especially near a stand of cottonwoods, there can be a flurry of cotton that resembles a light snow storm. But to this Texas girl the piles of fluff along the edges of the grass remind me of cotton. Like the bits of cotton that blow out of the cotton pickers and module builders in August and pile up along the road. 

The cotton blizzard typically lasts only a few weeks, and all is gone by July. They can be a nuisance sometimes clogging up waterways, filters, collecting inches deep in gutters, and turning into clumps of fibrous mass in the rain. These piles can sometimes be difficult to clear away.

These trees are Eastern Cottonwood, also called Eastern Poplar. Cottonwoods are some of the oldest known trees in existence. They are in the Willow family and like willows are fast growers. Their wood is generally weak and they are rather short lived as trees go, living usually only about eighty years or so. But due to their rapid growth they can provide quick shade in parks and recreational areas.

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