Friday, July 3, 2009

Fluff Piece

One of my favorite paths at Hahamongna Watershed Park is currently a winter wonderland. I'm pretty certain this plant is native to California. At this time of year it fills the area surrounding it in the Arroyo Seco with white fuzz. It's on the ground and in the branches. We're probably all breathing it right now. Sure is pretty, though.

You have to blow this picture up to get the full impact. I wanted you to see this the way I saw it, so I didn't adjust the colors or contrast. To give you some scale, the log at the lower right is about two feet long.

I searched the web but I don't think I used the right terms. Can anyone tell me what plant makes this white fluff?

Update, 7/11/09: Ann Erdman, aka Pasadena PIO, went to the trouble to email a couple of experts about this flora and sent me her results.
From Darya Barar, Certified Arborist at the City of Pasadena:
"The tree in the picture looks like an Arroyo Willow to me. I believe the maintenance policy in the arroyo is to allow trees to be as natural as possible.... that means in the fall there is no intervention by City crews."
and from Elise Jackson, Arroyo Seco Program Coordinator:
"Darya is correct. This is a native willow, a predominant tree in the Hahamongna flood basin, behind Devil's gate dam. The white 'fluff' contains the seeds which aids in the wind dispersal of these seeds. You can see in the photo the seeds (dark spots) mixed in the fluff. These trees definitely give Hahamongna the look of a winter wonderland, when the wind blows the white fluff completely covers the air and the ground, distributing seeds for the natural regeneration of our native willow woodland and providing important wildlife habitat."

Thanks to Darya and Elise for responding to Ann, and thanks to Ann for pursuing this information!

24 comments:

Trish said...

I don't think I've ever seen this...cotton, p@ssy willow...fake hollywood snow?

and I've been in the watershed before...but apparently, not at this time of year!

USelaine said...

I've never seen it before either. Up here, we sometimes see ceanothus trees loaded with "tent caterpillars", but the shape of the web-like structures are different. Time to call the LA Arboretum.

Shell Sherree said...

Sorry, Petrea, I don't know. But it's pretty, isn't it! {Perhaps less so for asthmatics...}

Dina said...

We could make up a name . . . like cotton candy tree.

Ted Thompson said...

Looks like something that has a Gypsy Moth invasion.

Jean Spitzer said...

Invasion of the body snatcher tree? If the other commenters are correct about the moths.

altadenahiker said...

might be the snow in summer tree (Australia's flaxleaf paperbark Melaleuca linariifolia.)

Katie said...

I'm not sure what it is either, but it's making me sneeze. Sure does look like soft snow at first glance.

Vanda said...

I didn't realize cotton grew on tress.

Margaret said...

I have no idea what it's called, but it looks likes very touchable. I like it.

Petrea said...

I'm wishing I'd gotten a close-up of the foliage. (Gives me an excuse to go back, as if I needed one.)

I've been surfing about on Google Images; the closest thing seems to be the mouthful Altadena Hiker suggested; there are different varieties and we have the right climate, so it could grow here. We have plenty of eucalyptus, after all.

It really is a wonderland on some of the more secluded paths. I love it there.

Pascal Jim said...

You sillys..its called The Laundry Tree.

Petrea said...

Pascal Jim, you sent me looking again, but the only photos I found are of clothes hanging on branches.

Saretta said...

Looks like a soap bubble tree!

dive said...

If it were not for the leaves I'd have thought it was a cottonwood, Petrea.
But with those leaves I really have no idea.

JM said...

You have to enlarge the photo to see how much 'cotton' there is. Fantastic!

Daisy said...

I think this seed fluff is from the willow trees. There are so many of them down in that part of Hahamonga.

Tash said...

So soft & very fluffy looking. Great place for a walk.

Petrea said...

I don't think it's been "attacked" by another plant because the plants around it aren't all covered. Unless it's the type of flora that attracts fluff. That would be so typical of an ecosystem.

marley said...

I've never seen this before, though it is amazing. looks like a willow type leaf. I think we'll all have to wonder.

Petrea said...

For anyone still subscribed to this post (the one about the tree covered in fluffy white stuff), I've updated it with information from certified arborists, thanks to Ann Erdman, Pasadena PIO.

Daisy said...

Ha, I knew it was willow - we rabbits know a thing or two about which plants are which. After all, we were eating them long before you humans evolved. P.S. We only nibble willow leaves when we have a headache.

Petrea said...

Sure, back in the day that's where aspirin came from.

Anonymous said...

Possibly a cottonwood - from the poplar family