Catkins and Celandine

Christine Tansey's picture

On last week’s visit to Roslin Glen it finally felt like parts of the woods were waking up. While the trees are mostly still asleep up here in Edinburgh, with only elder and evergreen species showing leaves, there are other things to look out for while waiting for the greenery.

Wherever you are around the UK, one of the most obvious signs of spring befre the trees come into leaf and the ground flora really gets going are the catkins of wind-pollinated tree species.  Hornbeam, silver birch and hazel catkins are all at different stages of development at Roslin.  Wind pollinated trees often produce catkins and flowers before leafing, and this allows more free movement of pollen as there are fewer obstacles.


On my recent walk, I saw lots of hazel catkins and their tiny star-like red flowers. Bumping into branches laden with catkins, clouds of pollen were released.  My photography skills were not quite up to the challenge of capturing this motion, but I tried!

The first lesser celandine flowers had also appeared, although only in open clearings within the wood and I’m still waiting for flowering under my trees. This year, after the warm winter, there is still green bracken on the woodland floor, amidst the usual rust coloured debris. The amount of bracken and leaf litter is limiting how much of the ground flora's new growth is visible, but slowly more and more leaves of bluebell, ramsons and lesser celandine are appearing through it.

The first records of hazel, sycamore, primrose and lesser celandine are starting to appear on our results maps, keep an eye on them to see how spring is progressing in the UK’s woodlands. If you are interested in taking part in Track a Tree this year, there is still time to head out to your local woodland and select a tree to monitor. If you'd like to find out more and hear about Eco Sapien's experiences tracking a tree, why not have a look at their great video blog posts before going to select your own tree.

Enjoy recording spring in the woods!