The air right now basically looks like an allergy spray commercial.

Have you noticed that practically everywhere you go right now, there's white fluffy stuff just airborne, everywhere? I've seen it the last few days while I was out driving, and for a split second I thought it was snow, which we also had a little bit of today. But no, I'm talking about what looks like an actual sneeze-waiting-to-happen, blowing in the wind.

Photo by Laura Kessler on Unsplash
Photo by Laura Kessler on Unsplash

I suppose it could be a combination of many things, but there seems to be a prevailing bit of fluff riding the winds in my neighborhood. Some folks thought it was milkweed, or cattails. Totally the wrong time of year for those. Others said poplar pollen. But this fluffy stuff was super fine. And stranger, there was so much of it, it was gathering up in spots like snow. Which again, we also had a little bit of today.

One comment caught my eye, and it was the one I was looking for.

I asked my friends on Facebook what they all thought it was, and a friend floated the idea that it was Eastern Cottonwood. And that was it. I knew it wasn't any of the other things, based a bunch of Googling. But I drew blank on cottonwood until I saw it. It was literally everywhere down at the VFW baseball fields in Hampden.

Early summer eastern cottonwood tree leaves and seed capsules
Credit: Merrimon / Getty Images / iStockphoto

At one point, a big wind blew up and the air looked like a Noreaster. The adult trees can produce up to 40 million seeds a year. Put a few of them together in a given area, and you're pretty much looking at tree snow. And then you see spots like this, where all the seeds collect into these piles. You can even see where they busted out of their pods.


They are in the poplar family, or species, or phylum, or whatever fancy science word is supposed to go in there. So my friends who mentioned poplars are actually right. Sooner than later, all those seeds will go away for the year and our sinuses can get back to normal. Until then, enjoy the snow seeds. And for reference, this is what it looks like when it's blowing around...

Maybe you could put some Claritin in there for this season...

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