By Annie Runyon
I found these longleaf cones (flowers) at Harris Lake this past week.
You can see the cluster of purple male cones (or catkins) above, and 2 female cones growing below the pointy growing tip of a new branch.
Our longleaf pine sprouted its first catkins in our yard this spring.
It has joined with all the other neighborhood pines, mostly loblolly and a few short leaf,
releasing clouds of bright yellow pollen into the air.
Now we know it is the tiny pollen grains from the oaks, red cedars and hickories that are likely causing our allergies … but the pine pollens are the bigger, showy ones that we notice. AND people are grumbling. POLLEN IS EVERYWHERE! This abundance assures these wind-pollinated trees that their cones will produce seeds, and that new tree seedlings will sprout.
Perhaps this generous dusting of protein-rich pollen seeping into the soil with April’s showers will also help to fertilize and nourish all of the surrounding plants. Perhaps pollen is a spring tonic for the whole forest.