What are the stringy things that fall from oak trees? You know what we mean — those small brown stringy bits that make a mess under your oak tree in spring. The short answer is that these are catkins.
What Are Catkins?
Catkins are part of the reproductive system of a live oak. These male flower parts are pollen-producing, so the tassels are an integral part of the production of acorns. They’re ideal for the procreation process since the wind shakes the tassels, releasing the pollen and blowing it onto the female flowers. When all the pollen is finished, the tassels die off and fall to the ground.
The downside of the stringy stuff that falls from the tree is that it’s very messy. These male flowers release hundreds of tiny pollen grains that make a mess everywhere. It’s here that oak trees cause problems by leaving huge mats of this debris.
Are Oak Trees Male or Female?
Now that you can answer, “What are the stringy things that fall from oak trees?” you might wonder why some oak trees grow more acorns than catkins. This is because oak trees are either male or female. Male oaks will produce more catkins than acorns, with the opposite being true for female trees.
When Do Catkins Appear?
Catkins start to grow in late winter before the tree starts to leaf out. You’ll notice the corresponding female flowers at about the same time. When the wind blows, the pollen transfers from one flower to the other, fertilizing them and producing a new little acorn.
A typical tassel releases its pollen over four days, but this is weather dependent. You can check if there’s any of the sticky stuff left by gently shaking the tassel.
The catkins will begin to fall in the early spring when the weather starts to warm up. They’ll typically take about two or three weeks, depending on the local conditions.
Can Catkins Aggravate Allergies?
Yes, the pollen can aggravate allergies. If someone in your family is allergic to pollen, you can use a rake, leaf blowers, or hand tools to remove the tassels. First, dampen the tassels so they don’t release more dust, and then take them down.
If someone is allergic, don’t use the tassels as mulch; rather, put them into the compost bin.
What Can You Do With Catkins?
While they are on your tree, it’s best not to do anything with them at all. They perform a vital function, so it’s worth putting up with a bit of disorder unless you have severe allergies.
The upside to the mess is that it’s rich in nutrients. Rake them up and bury them in the compost bin to decompose for nutritional compost for your oak tree. Alternatively, lay out the drying mats as instant mulch.
Contact Our Expert Team Today!
Now that we’ve answered, “What are the stringy things that fall from oak trees?” is there anything else we can help with? Would you like us to perform a tree health assessment for you, for example? For any tree issues, Island Tree Service is your leading team in Fort Myers, FL, and the surrounding areas. We are experienced, reliable professionals that will go above and beyond to assist with your needs. Call us at (239) 463-5121 to schedule service today. We’re ready to give you the tree service you deserve.