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