'What are catkins?' he asked.
They're erect or pendent tassels of tiny flowers. Male catkins are striking, and so more familiar. Female catkins can be tiny and hard to see.
Hazel, alder, willow, oak, birch and bog myrtle have catkins. And this spring I discovered hornbeam catkins. I've long loved hornbeam's autumn fruit so I wonder how I'd overlooked the catkins. I found these trees on a bright and frosty morning so images show to advantage. To see the detailed structure and rich colours of the male catkins I had to come close.