One of the joys of late winter is the glorious sight of the dangling yellow catkins of the Hazel Tree. These striking flowers send the cheerful message that Winter will soon be over. The catkins are the male flowers and very easily grab your attention. Last year I chatted to a forestry worker who told me to take a closer look. He said if I looked close enough I would hopefully see the equally impressive female flower. On my travels this week I did and I was lucky enough to find the small scarlet coloured flowers that are no more than 2 mm in size.
The pollen from the catkins is not sticky. This prevents the few insects that are around in Winter from collecting it. The trees rely purely on wind pollination. The end result of all this are Hazel Nuts in early Autumn. The squirrels will almost certainly beat me to the crop later on in the year but hopefully a few will be missed that I can be pick for myself.