The trees are alive with the sound of … buzzing?

Honeybees are out in force on the blossoms of Goat Willow (Salix caprea) down at Ash Green Meadows. Willow is a useful nectar source for bees early in the season before leaf burst, which is just getting underway with Poplar and Hawthorn now coming into leaf.

Most trees are monoecious (both male and female). However willow species are dioecious, meaning the whole tree is either female or male, just like holly and yew. The male catkins are a distinctive fluffy grey like cats paws, which ripen yellow with pollen, as in the photo.


Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is another dioecious tree which has an interesting non-binary habit. Sometimes it is polygamo-dioecious, with a few male flowers or branches on a female tree or vice versa. A little confusing just to keep everyone on our toes.

Senior Ranger Stuart

About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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