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New England News

The Story Behind That Fluff You've Been Seeing Everywhere

Cottonwood_20090521_083459_1.jpg
EnLorax G. Edward Johnson / commons.wikimedia.org
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Fluffy "cotton" and seeds from an eastern cottonwood tree (P. deltoides subsp. deltoides)

Berkshire residents may have noticed that the county has been blanketed in fluff this spring. WAMC asked the hard questions to find out what’s behind the ubiquitous airborne seedlings.

To find out more about the feathery puffballs coating the county, we called Becky Cushing, the Berkshire Sanctuaries Director of Mass Audobon, a nonprofit conservation group that protects around 36,500 acres of land in Massachusetts.

“One of the trees that’s creating this seed dispersal mechanism are cottonwood trees, which are also known as a type of poplar,” she told WAMC.

Cushing says there are many kinds of poplars in the county. They’re also known as aspens, and they’re all churning out the cottony seed discharge — which allows them to float in the air to find germination sites. It’s expected to continue through June.

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