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Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

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"And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.   And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31)

Flowering Trees and Shrubs of Sleepy Hollow Lake
- Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) -

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(Pussy Willow - 01)  The winter of 2001-2002 was the mildest we could ever remember.  For the first time in the 22 years we've lived at Sleepy Hollow Lake, the lake never completely froze over.  On March 4th, as we were taking a walk, we spotted this pre-spring gift of God's creation.  The pussy willows were beginning to bloom!
(Pussy Willow - 01a)  Pussy willow grow along the East coast of North America from Newfoundland to Delaware and extend westward to Missouri and British Columbia.  The silky-haired blooms normally appear in early spring and are attached to scales on the catkin (branch).
(Pussy Willow - 02)  The scales of the catkin (branch) are more visible in this photo, but only one grey silky-haired bloom has developed.  It is too early to see the 2 stamens and the 1 pistil.
(Pussy Willow - 02a)  When magnified, as in this photo, the silky gray hairs of the pussy willow look very much like one of our cat's fur coat.
(Pussy Willow - 03)  The pussy willow has no brightly colored flowers to attract attention.  Instead, it draws our attention with its soft silky gray-haired blooms that have a "gentleness" and beauty all their own.
(Pussy Willow - 03a)  If we look closely at the spot where the bloom of the pussy willow appears, we can see where the branch seems to "bleed" sap.  Looking at this, during the season of Passover and Easter, reminds us of God's deliverance and redemption.
(Pussy Willow - 04)  Pussy willow plants are either male (staminate) or female (pistillate).  In this picture we can see the pussy willow flowers blooming.
(Pussy Willow - 04a)  In this enlargement of the pussy willow, we can see the pollen grains on some of the maturing stamens.  Pussy willow flowers have from 1 to 7 stamens.
(Pussy Willow - 04b)  This is another close-up of another blooming pussy willow catkin with its many flowers.
(Pussy Willow - 05)  We normally think of pussy willow blooms as being the soft gray projections along the branch, but they are really the "bud" stage of the bloom.  Here we can see the yellow and red color of the stamens.
(Pussy Willow - 05a)  The pollen grains on the stamens on the right side of the photo are more evident in this enlargement.
(Pussy Willow - 06)  This is another photo of a male pussy willow bloom contrasted against a clear blue sky.
(Pussy Willow - 06a)  This is the kind of photo that, when viewed out of context, might carry the caption, "What is it?"  These enlarged pussy willow photos give us a glimpse into the wonderment, variety and, detailed beauty of God's infinite creation and blessings.
(Pussy Willow - 07)  The stamens of the pussy willow bloom stretch out to deposit their pollen grains on the body of a visiting bee, several of which were busily buzzing around the blooms of the bush when we took this picture.
(Pussy Willow - 08)  This is the bloom of the female (pistillate) pussy willow with its single pistil coming from each flower on the catkin.
(Pussy Willow - 09)  This is an enlarged view of the pistils and ovaries of the pussy willow bloom that are beginning to swell with the developing seeds.
(Pussy Willow - 10)  The fertilized seeds continue to grow and mature in the ovaries of the pussy willow until they are ready to produce other pussy willows.  Since the pussy willow is unable to move and plant her seeds elsewhere, God has provided the pussy willow with a helping hand.  Each seed has silky hairs that allow the seeds to be carried away by the wind.
(Pussy Willow - 11)  The seeds of the pussy willow are held just firmly enough so that they will not fall out by themselves.  But when the wind begins to blow strongly enough to allow the seeds to be carried away, the seeds are pulled loose from the ovaries and become air borne.  Some of the empty and partially empty ovaries can be seen in this photo.  The small dark oval shapes are the seeds.
(Pussy Willow - 12)  In the top center of the this photo we can see one of the swollen ovaries of the pussy willow with the silken hairs just beginning to project out the top.  When the seeds are mature the ovaries open to allow the seeds to be carried away in the wind.
(Pussy Willow - 13)  To us, the various stages in the development of the pussy willow, which we have depicted in this series, is evidence of God's perfect love.  If we allow ourselves to receive God's perfectly created love and beauty into our hearts, souls and minds, and allow it to mature as the seeds of the pussy willow, then we will be able to send forth that love to the whole of creation and no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals, or the environment.
(Pussy Willow - 14)  On 1 March 2004, we spotted these pussy willows beginning to open.
(Pussy Willow - 14a)  Where the snow had melted and the ground had begun to warm, the pussy willows were starting to open; but where snow cover remained, they were still dormant.
(Pussy Willow - 15)  This pre-spring pussy willow branch sweeps upward toward the sunlight: an announcement that winter will soon be over.
(Pussy Willow - 16)  After the ground thaws, the sap begins to flow into the branches, and the scale nodes begin to swell, soon followed by smooth grey points sticking out their tops.  As the bloom swells, the node splits, and as the bud dries, it begins to assume its fuzzy appearance.
(Pussy Willow - 17)  Cold weather set in again after the early budding on 1 Mar 2004 and it was another four weeks before these pussy willows fully opened.
(Pussy Willow - 18)  Some of the pussy willow branches were either slow to bud out or they had suffered some frost damage.
(Pussy Willow - 19)  The beauty of the pussy willow seems to stand out best when contrasted against the bright blue sky.
(Pussy Willow - 19a)  This is a closer look at a couple of the pussy willow blooms.
(Pussy Willow - 19b)  These pussy willow catkins are just beginning to send forth their stamens or pistils.
(Pussy Willow - 20)  This is another look at a pussy willow branch contrasted against the bright blue sky.
(Pussy Willow - 21)  This pussy willow is nearly completely budded out.
(Pussy Willow - 22)  These pussy willows are beginning to mature, sending forth their stamens with the yellow pollen just beginning to develop on their anthers.
(Pussy Willow - 22a)  This bee's eye view of a pussy willow bloom gives us a closer look at the stamens with their translucent white filaments topped with anthers.  The yellow coloring on some of the anthers is from the developing pollen grains.
(Pussy Willow - 23)  The beauty of this pussy willow branch is enhanced by its background of white clouds and blue sky.
(Pussy Willow - 24)  Normally, we don't see the green pussy willow leaves developing until after the catkins are fully matured.  This bush was an exception to the "rule."  It also may have something to do with the cold weather and snow we had after the catkins had begun to open.
(Pussy Willow - 25)  And once again the pussy willows go to seed.
(Pussy Willow - 25a)  This puff of pussy willow cotton no longer resembles the delicate grey buds of early spring, but these seeds will insure that pussy willows will continue to grow in this area.
(Pussy Willow - 26)  The leaves of the pussy willow seem to obscure most of the remaining flowers and seed clusters, and they fade away for another year.
(Pussy Willow - 26a)  It only when we look closely that we can see the remains of the many pussy willow blooms.
(Pussy Willow - 27)  The bright blue sky gives highlights the remaining pussy willow blooms, as they push out their seeds in anticipation of the next gust of wind.
(Pussy Willow - 27a)  As we take this close up look the silky threads of the the pussy willow seeds that will carry them to a new place to grow, we look forward to next year's early spring buds.
(Pussy Willow - 28)  We photographed these pussy willow branches in the middle of March 2006, before the ice on the lake had melted.  It was like an announcement that Spring was just a short time away.
(Pussy Willow - 28a)  This is a closer look at some of the pussy willow blooms.
(Pussy Willow - 29)  In this photo, we zeroed in on one of the budding pussy willow catkins.
(Pussy Willow - 29a)  This is a close up view of the budding pussy willow catkin.

(Pussy Willow - 30)  Cindy sent us this photos: I took this photo of a pussy willow when it was opening up in the spring in my back yard. Thought you would enjoy seeing it from a different angle.
(Pussy Willow - 31)  On 30 March 2008, we spotted the first blooming pussy willow of the season.  They were the first sign that Spring had arrived.
(Pussy Willow - 31a)  In this photo, we can see the some newly budding catkins as swollen grayish-white dots along the branches below the already blooming catkins.
(Pussy Willow - 32)  This is another look at the first blooming pussy willows of 2008.
(Pussy Willow - 32a)  This is another look at some of the blooming pussy willow catkins.
(Pussy Willow - 33)  The contrast of the pussy willow against the blue sky added to the beauty of this spring day.
(Pussy Willow - 33a)  When we take the time to stop and really see the pussy willow, as well as the other beautiful creations of God, our day becomes more joyful.
(Pussy Willow - 34)  After taking this photo of the pussy willow, we continued with our walk.
(Pussy Willow - 35)  We took this photo on 21 March 2009, while on one of our walks.
(Pussy Willow - 35a)  We love the contrast of looking at the pussy willow against a clear blue sky.

(Pussy Willow - 36)  This is another look at the blooms of the first pussy willows of the 2009 season.

| Flowering Trees and Shrubs of SHL | Art and Photos |

Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.

Photos by Frank L. Hoffman unless otherwise noted.
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Frank L. Hoffman flh@all-creatures.org

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