Tree fluff

It’s snowing again in Warsaw but this time it’s snowing tree fluff and not frozen water.


There’s an incredible amount of it about at the moment blowing in the air and getting caught in the grass.


I suppose a consequence of living where we do with so many trees around. I’ve been trying to work out where it is all coming from and the best I can establish is that it’s coming from trees like this one;


Which are producing enormous amounts of super-fluffy ‘catkins’ like this;


It is nothing more than a way of dispersing seeds, each one wrapped in its own little cotton wool flying machine. You can see the seeds in this close-up;


Exactly the same method of seed dispersal as the dandelion, as Zosia now demonstrates!

M said this is called in Polish “Babie lato” (or something that sounded like that) but I can’t find any references to that on the web. Perhaps it’s a very colloquial thing and given different names in different places?

Anyone know what the tree is?


28 thoughts on “Tree fluff

  1. That and the stray spiderwebs that float around near the end of summer. The long, sticky strands that stick to your face – how annoying :)

    Not sure what the trees are but I know poplars disperse their seeds in a similar way.

  2. guest – I’m aware of that use of the word which is why it seems strange to also use it for tree fluff. I’ll check again, maybe I just needed my ears cleaning!

  3. Hi:

    This is sorta in my wheelhouse. My undergraduate degree is actually in forestry (don’t ask). My familiarity of native tree species is obviously better suited to N.A based ones however.

    Typically, latin names can save you a lot of grief, because pretty much every country has a different “common name” for their native trees. This appears to be a Populus alba. (Populus genus trees can go by the names poplar, aspen, cottonwood, just to name a few) Can’t be certain, unless I could see one up close and personal.

    Found this reference to “snow” showers based out of Moscow:

    “During a few mild dry days each spring in Moscow, bits of mysterious white fluff float on the warm air, swirl and skitter down the streets to form drifts against the curbs. White fluff carpets green lawns and shines like motes of white dust against blue spring skies.

    This “summer snow” is the springtime dispersal of millions of tiny seeds from poplars, cottonwoods, and tree willows—all members of the willow family.

    Poplars are the first to release their seeds, then willows, a week or two later (there aren’t many seed-producing cottonwoods in Moscow). Poplars, cottonwoods, and willows produce copious amounts of short-lived, minute seeds, very few of which typically sprout.

    Silver poplars are scattered through a few Moscow neighborhoods. They look a little like beefy aspen trees. Their bark is dark and rough near the ground but smooth and pale on the upper trunk and branches. Their leaves are blocky and lobed, white and felty underneath.

    There are years when seed-fluff piles up pretty deep, clogging drains and air vents. It comes inside my friend Sally’s house on her clothes, her feet, her dog, or through her windows and doors.

  4. Thanks, siuniab! I’m shocked at how many tree fluff experts we have here. Also shocked I could live so long and never experience a tree fluff invasion until now. Live and learn.

  5. Unfortunately “Babie lato” is at the end of Summer. These are webs which are flying with winds.
    And this are allergenic poplar seeds.

  6. We have a row of black poplars running along the rear boundary of our house and neighbouring houses. This year our back garden is covered in fluffy catkins exactly like the ones in your photographs. I cannot remember anything like it in the 27 years we have lived here in Letchworth.

    The last two years we have had mild winters and cool, wet summers. This year we have had a cold winter and a warm spring. This been to the obvious liking of all sorts of wild flowers – the primroses and bluebells in our garden have put on the best ever show. Perhaps the poplars like it too.

  7. Well this white fluff comes every year to around us and this year it has really caused problems with massive hay fever, let alone “snow” in the house. Anyone know how to prevent it shedding so much stuff or at least reduce its production?

  8. Pingback: Seasonal similarities | 20 east

  9. The trees I have seen producing these snow like stuff are definitely NOT poplars. The trees I have seen are a much more rounded shape and live near canals and rivers. I can’t believe how much is written here about poplars.

  10. Spoke too soon. Guess what is sailing around in the air as I am coming home today…………..cottonwood snow =^..^=

  11. Pingback: Tree fluff is upon us! | Scattsblog

  12. I am contented with the name cottonwood tree, it,s a pretty accurate description. Mo key of Northiam East sussex

  13. I live in Newfoundland Canada, this stuff is all over the place here now too, and I was also wondering what kind of tree it was.

  14. Forgot to mention although it was late in the season this year., it seems awfully late for cottonwood but maybe your seaon is differrnt in New Zfoundland.

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