Balsam Poplar Catkin (not a cocoon) on Balsam Fir Tree
If you see these strange structures on a Balsam Fir tree, it may at first look like an insect cocoon or egg case, but the structure in the photo is of a Balsam Poplar catkin (Populus balsamifera) that has fallen onto a Balsam Fir tree. The part that looks like a fuzzy caterpillar is the catkin/flower of the Balsam Poplar tree and the Reddish-brown structure, that looks like a smaller version of a moth cocoon, is the bud scale. These structures are adapted for wind dispersal and often land on trees together, making them look sometimes like they are physically connected to the tree. The attachment is aided by a sticky substance the buds are covered with that smells like balsam — perhaps the source of the name.
These pictures were taken on Memorial Day weekend in Spruce-Fir Northern Hardwood Forest in Northeast Vermont.
Stewartia Trees that Fare Well in New England Gardens
Native and Non-Native Stewartia Trees Suitable for New England
Many may be familiar with the stately looking sycamore trees with eye-catching exfoliating bark. Just take a slow drive down Memorial Drive at Harvard University and you will be convinced of the timeless elegance of this (exfoliating bark) characteristic.
However, there is group of native and non-native Stewartia trees that turn heads even quicker, and these are now readily available for your home garden (but not at box stores yet). Be warned, Stewartia trees are not for the gardener who strives for instant glory. These trees, unlike the aformentioned Sycamore, are very slow growing. They also carry a larger price tag. I would recommend purchasing something bigger than a twig if you want something impressive in your lifetime; a 1o’ specimen goes for around $200. Continue reading Native and Non-Native Stewartia Trees that Fare Well in New England Gardens→