What is that yellow stuff everywhere?

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Have you noticed an inordinate amount of yellow waxy stuff enveloping the great outdoors? If you have, you’re not alone.

It seems male pine cones have been particularly busy this season producing copious amounts of yellow pollen, carried vast distances by the wind. Mother Nature’s plan is that one of these pollen grains will make contact with a female cone and begin the process of germination. But as luck would have it, much of it winds up merrily floating along shorelines, coating our cars, decks and furniture, which makes the mass production of the stuff a matter of survival for these trees.

What you may not know is that pines produce both female and male cones, the latter, which are smaller and pointier than the female cones, are the culprit of the dusting we’re seeing. Oddly enough, despite producing both female and male cones, a pine will not pollinate itself but rather send its pollen into the wind looking for another pine’s female cone to land on. It’s a common occurrence, but this year the yellow stuff seems to be particularly prominent. Just ask Dwight resident and pilot Brian Tapley. He said there was so much pollen it was visible from the air while flying from Dwight to Parry Sound and back last week.

The pollen from the pine trees was incredible. Returning from Parry Sound, the pollen looked like smoke from a forest fire (but not as dense of course). This was the first and only time I have seen this event from the air in over 40 years of flying Dwight resident Brian Tapley

He took photos of the pollen rising from the forest like a mini dust storm (see the feature photo). “This pollen was rising to about 1500 to 2000 feet above the ground level,” he noted.

Pine pollen can often be found floating on the lakes. Photo: Brian Tapley

Pine pollen can often be found floating on the lakes. Photo: Brian Tapley

According to Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski, this is in fact a good year for pine pollen, particularly for white pine, in areas where there are high concentrations of the tree species.

“The lack of rain in the region during this period when white pine trees normally release their pollen (the second to third week of June) means it is more obvious since it accumulates on surfaces. High pollen concentration can also result in better pollination rates and subsequently improve seed production. Bumper seed years are important to the regeneration of tree species such as white pine.”

Allergy sufferers, you may not welcome this news but beware – it’s likely not the pine pollen you’re allergic to but pollen from flowering trees that is generally finer and remains airborne for longer periods of time.

 

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