Pesky “Catkins”

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 22, 2014

To the editor:
Living in “The Woods” near Columbus is mostly delightful, but here are ubiquitous oak trees and their annual offerings. Besides a foot-thick carpet of their leaves in the fall, there are the hundreds, no thousands, of their little plant “caterpillars” shed in Spring (like right now)!
I finally got around to Googling the pesky things and learned that they are “catkins” and are the male flowers of the mighty oak. The catkin produces all that yellow pollen that covers everything enough to change the perceived color. After the wind distributes the pollen to all the female flowers to make acorns, the oak tree then sheds the catkins as well.
The catkins cover the roof and clog the gutters, even the bigger commercial ones on my house. A softball sized-cluster of them erupts from the downspout, if I am lucky—otherwise, a similar cluster just parks over the downspout hole up in the gutter and eventually stops the flow of water. Result is Niagara Falls near the front door—the reason I put up the gutter in the first place!
Oh I do love these mighty oaks that shade my house in summer, but I sure could do without the stuff that they distribute so freely every year. Oh yes, that includes the acorns that pepper the roof loudly for a while, followed later by hundreds of little oak-leaved sprouts that dot my landscape.
What kind of madness has caused me to plant two more oaks to replace the ones that died and fell? O little man, where is thy brain when thou needest it most?

– Garland O. Goodwin,

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