Don’t be alarmed. It is not snowing in June.
All that white fluff you see flying around in the breeze is common at this time of year.
Many trails across Red Deer are covered with the so-called poplar tree fuzz, creating an unusual summer winter wonderland-type experience.
With such a rainy June last year, and a lot of rain this spring, the fuzz hasn’t had much of a chance to float around, germinate and dissipate.
“This white fluff is completely normal to see for a couple of weeks in June. I think it is just taking people by surprise this season, as we had such a rainy June in 2019 and these little guys didn’t get the chance to float around,” said Bree Watts, community services administrative assistant with city parks, in an email.
“It does clear up on its own for the most part, with the help of rain and wind, as well as whatever our mowers pick up and spread around. I anticipate that the next rainfall we get will probably be the end of the poplar fuzz for another season.”
Todd Nivens, executive director at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, agreed, and said that even by as early as Wednesday, with a good day of rain, the fuzz will mostly disappear.
Nivens also noted with few hot, dry days this spring and into early summer, there’s a good chance the fuzz is just spreading in a higher concentration some days, and that is likely why it’s been so noticeable.
“We’ve just got fewer days for it to be released. It could be that there’s more being released at one time, but the overall volume probably won’t be any different,” he said.
Although it may seem like it, it is not poplar fuzz that causes allergies at this time of year. It just so happens it spreads at the same time as well-known allergens.
“People are not allergic to poplar fluff, unless they have a contact allergy… because it’s too big. What they’re allergic to is pollen that is being released around the same time,” he said.
Nivens added the fluff is simply seeds that are produced by the female trees.
“This is just the poplars shooting seeds off into the wind, with the intention they grow somewhere. The fluff is the seeds themselves, or rather the seed dispersal system,” he said.
“The fluff enables the seeds to float on the wind and be dispersed away from the original tree. The seed would land on the ground, germinate and grow without being competition for the parent.”