What’s all the fluff about?

Dominic Giannini 19 October 2020 10
Poplar fluff

What is the fluff in Canberra? Photo: Supplied.

Have you been walking around lately and noticed a cotton-like fluff?

It’s not exactly snowing over Manuka Oval again, so what is the fluff? And can it set off hayfever?

The good news is – like wattle – it doesn’t cause hayfever, according to ANU’s resident tree expert, Dr Matthew Brookhouse, “however, poplar fluff has been reported to impact upon people with respiratory difficulties such as asthma”.

“The reality is that the production of fluff coincides with springtime pollen production,” he said.

The fluff primarily comes from silver poplar trees but is also produced by willows and comprises of tiny fibres surrounding seeds.

READ ALSO: Every wattle has its day right around Australia

Or as Dr Brookhouse puts it, it’s just “plants celebrating spring”.

“It is the packing that is around the seeds that the poplar trees release,” he said.

“The fluff itself allows the seed to be lifted up and carried around by the wind. If you catch some and you roll it in your hand or wet it, you will see there is a hard seed coat in the middle of it.”

Those around Kingston may be seeing more than their fair share of fluff around the place with Canberra and Wentworth Avenues in Kingston being an excellent example of poplar planting, Dr Brookhouse says.

The reasonable amount of rain during winter and coming out of last summer has allowed the trees to produce new leaves, stems and reproductive organs over winter, he said.

But is there anything we can do with the fluff?

Unfortunately no. While the fibrous fluff may resemble cotton and can be used for stuffing, there is not enough around to make anything useful out of it due to how much the fibres compress.

Plus there is also the fact that when it gets wet it just becomes nasty mush.

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10 Responses to What’s all the fluff about?
Tim Cole Tim Cole 10:10 pm 19 Oct 20

Political promises?

Lynda-Maree Morgan Lynda-Maree Morgan 9:37 pm 19 Oct 20

Canberra Snow

Shane Westmore Shane Westmore 9:35 pm 19 Oct 20

Asbestos? Oh, too late for that guy

Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 9:33 pm 19 Oct 20

Time for university students to start studying

    Christina Sanchez Christina Sanchez 9:52 pm 19 Oct 20

    Janet Mulgrue yep that was my cue to study lol

    Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 9:53 pm 19 Oct 20

    Christina Sanchez an oldie but a goodie 😂

    Fiona Pfeil Fiona Pfeil 11:57 am 20 Oct 20

    Ben Roberts I got through 🥴 sort of 😉

    Ben Roberts Ben Roberts 2:17 pm 20 Oct 20

    Fiona Pfeil me too. Never have I seen more volatile fire fuel.

    Fiona Pfeil Fiona Pfeil 2:20 pm 20 Oct 20

    Ben Roberts the odd, full gutter had the odd match dropped in to the volatile fluffy stuff 😬🤔🤣

Tom Adam Tom Adam 9:30 pm 19 Oct 20

November Snow was what I was told when I first moved here in 1998. 😉

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