Friday 19 February 2021
Brilliant golden-yellow male hazel catkins have been catching the (occasional) sun for a month or so, but now is a good time to look for their tiny female counterparts. Good eyesight, strong reading glasses or a magnifying glass are needed to find them. Small greenish-brown flower buds on the hazel stems send out long pink sticky tendrils that catch wind-blown pollen from other bushes.
The male catkins have multiple flowers shedding pollen as they sway in the wind. Some of this is caught by the 2mm long sticky styles of the tiny female flowers which, now fertilised, start on the long summer process of producing hazel nuts.
Squirrels crack open and eat some of the autumn nuts while they are still green but bury others that may produce the next generation of hazel bushes.