Yikes! Is this snow in May?

Perhaps the prediction for the end of the world on May 21st 2011 was really all about this….

 No — although it looks like it, it’s actually not snow.  It’s Aspen fluff!

The female trees of the genus known as Populus (known as Aspen, Poplar or Cottonwood) all spread their tiny seed in clouds of fluff.  Light as air, they burst forth in May and travel by wind, creating ever widening stands of these short-lived trees. 

Aspen (often called ‘Quaking Aspen’ — Populus tremuloides) is one of the most important species of tree in the boreal forest, providing habitat, food and protection for many varieties of insects, small mammals and birds.  Although they are not trees commonly used in ornamental landscapes (it’s even hard to find aspens at the nurseries), they are often planted to act as fast-growing windbreaks in farmers’ fields or statuesque focal points in public parks (although other trees, like fastigiate oaks, might be a better choice for the latter). 

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