What the fluff? It’s poplar cotton, and there’s a lot this year

What the fluff? It’s poplar cotton, and there’s a lot this year

For those who’re strolling round Windsor these days and questioning, “what the fluff is these items?,” you’re not alone. 

Poplar cotton — the white, practically snow-like substance coming off the bushes and accumulating in grass and potholes — appears to be significantly plentiful this yr and is a positive signal allergy season is right here, consultants stated. 

The fluff is a group of seed hairs coming from bushes within the household of bushes that features poplars, aspens and willows, stated Sandy MacDonald, a professor of panorama horticulture at St. Clair Faculty. 

Poplar cotton — the white, practically snow-life substance coming off the bushes and accumulating in grass and pot holes — appears to be significantly plentiful this yr. (Peter Duck/CBC)

“This can be a manner for the tree to distribute seeds,” MacDonald stated “Inside that fuzz there’s a small tiny seed and naturally that’s for distribution. That seed can then float to a different location, generally even kilometres away. 

“As soon as it’s moist … it might germinate. And naturally this can be a manner for the plant to breed.”

Poplar bushes — drawing their title from the Latin root “populus” — are, as their title suggests, fairly fashionable throughout Canada. They’re usually planted in city areas as a result of they’re pretty tolerant, MacDonald stated: capable of face up to the air pollution, compacted soil, partial flooding and extra salt usually present in cities. 

Different widespread bushes in the identical household, like willows and aspens, additionally produce the fluff — that means Canadians from coast to coast will discover the stuff, he stated. 

A number of folks this time of yr are affected by seasonal allergy symptoms and should level the finger on the fluff. MacDonald stated the fluff itself truly isn’t an allergen — however that’s not the tip of the story. 

LISTEN | Sandy MacDonald joins Windsor Morning’s Nav Nanwa: 

Windsor Morning8:29What the fluff?

Sandy MacDonald, who teaches a panorama horticulture program at St. Clair Faculty, speaks with CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa about poplar seed “fluff”.

“In some methods it may be irritating to the eyes, nostril and throat if you happen to draw it in …that would point out irritation, so could possibly be mistaken for an allergy symptom,” MacDonald stated.

“But in addition there may be some proof too that different pollen within the air, coming from different bushes which can be pollinating, it might truly catch … it acts like a service as nicely.

A man in a black shirt stands near a tree.
Sandy MacDonald teaches panorama horticulture at St. Clair Faculty. He stated the white, snow-like fluff Windsorites are seeing is what’s often known as poplar cotton. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

“However technically we don’t suppose that most individuals are literally allergic to that fuzz itself.”

Extra folks seeing native pharmacist for seasonal allergy symptoms

Rob Modestino is the proprietor of Rob’s Entire Well being Pharmacy in LaSalle. Seeing the fluff, he stated, is a surefire approach to know allergy season is upon us. 

“There’s extra folks coming on this yr than we’ve seen earlier than, which can be coming in saying they’ve ‘by no means had allergy symptoms earlier than. Are we positive it’s allergy symptoms? Are we positive?’

A man in a grey shirt stands in front of a pharmacy counter.
Rob Modestino owns Rob’s Entire Well being Pharmacy in LaSalle. He stated extra folks than ever are coming on this yr with allergy signs. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

“Most are available in pondering it’s a chilly, some kind of flu bug or bacterial infections. After which whenever you dig into it deeper and get some data, you do discover out that it’s allergy symptoms. Simply appears the final couple of years have gotten quite a bit worse.”

Modestino stated folks ought to work to cut back their publicity to pollen by closing home windows and take allergy treatment if mandatory. Signs to look out for embrace runny nostril, itching eyes and sneezing. 

Folks ought to converse with their pharmacist earlier than taking allergy drugs, Modestino advisable. This yr, pharmacists are additionally capable of assess for and prescribe allergy drugs that could possibly be more practical than the over-the-counter drugs for folks with extra extreme seasonal allergy symptoms. 

Extra fluff than ordinary this yr

There might be extra fluff than ordinary, doubtless attributable to the climate: Scorching and dry climate over the previous couple of weeks, lack of a late frost, and the final two sizzling, dry summers inflicting stress for the bushes, and consequently the necessity for bushes to distribute extra seed, might all be enjoying an element, MacDonald stated. 

Blue sky with green tree leaves and white, snow-like fluff
Poplar cotton is the white hair-like fibre that comes off bushes every spring. The fibre helps carry seeds far and broad to allow them to germinate and develop — however one knowledgeable stated it might additionally carry pollen, regardless that the fluff itself isn’t an allergen. (Peter Duck/CBC)

The fluff is flamable, MacDonald stated, so some folks use it as a hearth starter. 

However folks have additionally explored different makes use of: Utilizing it to stuff pillows and as a fibre. Neither works nicely. Seems, what it does finest is what it’s meant to do. 

“Though they’re very high quality … there’s a central hole core and that really helps maintain water for the germinating seeds,” he stated. 

“The construction of them is absolutely fairly fascinating, and naturally works completely for the germinating seed.”

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