What The Heck Are Texas Catkins And How Do They Differ From Pollen?

What The Heck Are Texas Catkins And How Do They Differ From Pollen?
April 23, 2021 handsomelawn
In Article

It’s about that time, Texans. The time where springtime is in full effect, pollen is on high, and you’ll notice these strange, slim, flower clusters drooping from your oak trees. While some Texans may mistake these cylindrical clusters of flowers as pollen, they actually are something entirely different. Catkins in Texas are small, flowery spikes of trees that are wind-pollinated and drop from a single, central stem. These fuzzy dangling flowers are actually part of the reproductive process for live oak trees!

You’ll likely find catkins dangling from branches, either green or yellow in color, and potentially mistake them for pollen or even sometimes cocoons. There are two types of catkins – entirely male and entirely female flowers. Male catkins release their pollen first, which results in the female catkins receiving the pollen and then thriving in nature. Here is everything you need to know about catkins in Texas and why they’re much cooler than you think.

Where Will You Find Catkins In Texas In Your Yard?

In Texas, you can often find these yellow drooping flowers hanging from any type of oak tree – red oak, live oak, Lacey oak, Mexican oak, or otherwise. The little danglers are usually high up in the trees and help aid in the reproductive process for oaks.

Catkins In Texas Are Not Giant Piles Of Pollen

When you see giant piles of catkins on the ground, you might immediately think it is pollen. This is because of the yellowish color and the way when they dry, they break apart very easily. But instead what you’ll be looking at is the dead catkin flower. When catkins are hanging from trees, it is then that they release pollen into the air. Once they drop and are on the ground, they’re just flowers that have already pollinated and have done their job.

Why Texas Catkins Are Important For Your Yard And For Nature

Believe it or not, catkins are not just a pain in the butt and are actually quite helpful for nature. The female catkin flowers are much smaller than the male flowers. When the entire pollinated catkin falls from the trees, the flowers then appear on new growth as the start of acorns! The number of acorns that Texas receives in the fall will be directly proportionate to the quality of pollination from these catkins.

So what does this mean for your yard? Fallen catkins actually can make for excellent mulch. However, you’ll want to avoid raking and bagging them. The best method for handling catkins is to use them as compost. You can mow over the fallen flowers which will then made for a nice mulch over the yard. But for the harder surfaces, simply collect the catkins and add them to your veggie gardens or compost pile. Catkins are non-toxic and when they break down, they’ll feed the soil with nutrients and organic matter.

As always, if you have a few piles of catkins in your yard that you don’t know what to do with, make sure to give Handsome Lawn Service a call. Also, if you want to learn more about the pollination process of catkins, check out the Texas A&M Forest Service website.