When walking out to Iroquois Point to see the Musical Ride on Tuesday, it was impossible not to notice the white fluff that was lending a snowy look to certain patches of ground. A woman walking near me observed to her partner “Look at all the dandelion fluff!”
The fluff did look like dandelion seeds. However, it was courser, and had drifted into clumps and windrows here and there. It was also problematic that there was not a dandelion to be seen on the neatly-mown lawns. The clue to the riddle of the fluff was lying on the ground under a big tree.
The fluff was coming from a tree, an Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides). You can see the triangular, toothed leaves of the cottonwood on this little branch that had fallen to the ground. Cottonwoods aren’t all that common in southern Ontario. They are associated with moist sites and can be found along stream banks and ponds. There are a few in the park. The specimen that was snowing down fluff onto the road where we were passing by was a large, attractive tree. Now it’s clear where the name “Cottonwood” comes from!