5 February 2009

Hazel catkins at their best

For the next couple of weeks catkins on the hazel trees (Corylus avellana) will be at their best.  These catkins, or lamb's tails as I knew them as a child, are the male, flowers that shed their pollen on the wind.

20090204 BHW 7a hazel 009

The autumn nuts will develop from the small, bud-like female flowers with a sticky red tuft of stigmas to catch the flying pollen.

Corylus avellana 20030217b

The male catkins are eaten by caterpillars of the nut bud moth (Epinota tenerana) and, when the catkins are over, they bore their way into the leaf buds to finish feeding.  These tortrix moths are said to be quite common and one day I hope to find the caterpillars.  There is more here: http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=1139

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