Tree halos

by Richard Jones

A short while ago I was driving past Peckham Rye, when my eye was caught by a series of white halos on the grass under some of the trees...

Halo effect beneath mature black poplar, Populus nigra, caused by fallen catkinsA short while ago I was driving past Peckham Rye, when my eye was caught by a series of white halos on the grass under some of the trees. It looked as if several small snow storms had targeted some of the larger and more handsome specimens across the park. Not all of the large trees had been affected, but those that had, stood out in their own circular white carpets. Very strange.

I pulled into the short access road and hurried off to the nearest affected tree, a large and prominent black poplar standing proud in the middle of the mown grass. And suddenly all was made clear. They were all black poplars, and the white surround was the fluff produced by the female catkins. 

Normally this powdery wisp carries off the small seeds into the wind and away. But on this day the air was preternaturally still, not a gust, not a puff, not a whisper disturbed tree leaf or grass blade. As each gossamer white thread was released by the tree, instead of lifting off into the breeze, it simply dropped to the ground, and the grass beneath was thick with the stuff. 

Not surprisingly, the phenomenon was short-lived. The next day was hardly blustery, but air was moving and the white circles were gone.

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Gardeners' World Web User 31/07/2009 at 19:57

Help!!! I have a pigmy water lilly which I have had for several years, in 2007 it had 11 flowers on it through the season and was stunning. Last year I re-potted it using proper water lilly compost and later on it developed some kind of illness which resulted in no flowering at all. Any leaves that were above the water level seemed fine but those in the water turned yellow, then brown and just seemed to rot away. The stems also seemed to have been shredded! Is this water lilly beetle or do I have a virus of some sort and what can I do?

Gardeners' World Web User 04/08/2009 at 17:08

It is good to see these trees making a come back after many of the giants being felled for safety fears. They are credited with ability to drain land because they are happy in wet soil and will use so much water as they grow marsh becomes meadow?

Gardeners' World Web User 30/08/2009 at 08:35

NO FUNNY AT ALL for us, the sufferers of near by "monstrous" ... which fill our gardens and houses with catkins and fluff which fills our chest to hold our breath. CUT THEM all DOWN, please.... THEY TAKE AWAY the sunshine and fill the grass with dry MOSS ....

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:39

Wonderful story.