Cottonwood leaves unfolding at Green Timbers Park

With the warmer temperatures lately, the northern black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) leaves are just starting to unfold. In the next few of weeks, their aroma will fill the air, followed by fluffy balls of their seed floating everywhere.

The cottonwood has quite a distinctive, fresh aroma, and for anyone living in valley bottoms, it’s a true confirmation of spring. It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the bank of a rushing river or stream with the smell of fresh green leaves in the air.

Boy, this little spring exercise in natural history has shown me how much biology I’ve forgotten. For 20+ years, I followed the nature quite closely, as the work was tied to the biology of plants and bugs. With more recent careers, not so much.

Nowadays, I have to dig a little deeper for the info I’m looking for. Truly a use it or lose it kind of thing, I guess. This spring has been a good reminder.

Cottonwood leaf

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