Catkin

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Detail of a male flowering catkin on a willow (Salix sp.) Salix caprea Male.jpg
Detail of a male flowering catkin on a willow ( Salix sp.)

A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster (a spike), with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollinated (anemophilous) but sometimes insect-pollinated (as in Salix ). They contain many, usually unisexual flowers, arranged closely along a central stem that is often drooping. They are found in many plant families, including Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Moraceae, and Salicaceae.

Contents

Occurrence

Catkin-bearing plants include many trees or shrubs such as birch, willow, hickory, sweet chestnut, and sweetfern (Comptonia).

In many of these plants, only the male flowers form catkins, and the female flowers are single (hazel, oak), a cone (alder), or other types (mulberry). In other plants (such as poplar), both male and female flowers are borne in catkins.

In Britain, they can be seen in January or February, when many trees are bare for winter. They can even occur in December. [1]

Evolution

For some time, catkins were believed to be a key synapomorphy among the proposed Hamamelididae, also known as Amentiferae (i.e., literally plants bearing aments). Based on molecular phylogeny work, it is now believed that Hamamelididae is a polyphyletic group. [2] [3] This suggests that the catkin flower arrangement has arisen at least twice independently by convergent evolution, in Fagales and in Salicaceae. [4] Such a convergent evolution raises questions about what the ancestral inflorescence characters might be and how catkins did evolve in these two lineages.

Etymology

Etymology illustrated by pussy willow catkins from a children's book Pussy Willows by Margaret Ely Webb.jpg
Etymology illustrated by pussy willow catkins from a children's book

The word catkin is a loanword from the Middle Dutch katteken, meaning "kitten" (compare also German Kätzchen). This name is due either to the resemblance of the lengthy sorts of catkins to a kitten's tail, or to the fine fur found on some catkins. [5] [6] Ament is from the Latin amentum, meaning "thong" or "strap". [7]

Related Research Articles

Betulaceae Family of flowering plants comprising hazel and birch trees

Betulaceae, the birch family, includes six genera of deciduous nut-bearing trees and shrubs, including the birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams, hazel-hornbeam, and hop-hornbeams numbering a total of 167 species. They are mostly natives of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with a few species reaching the Southern Hemisphere in the Andes in South America. Their typical flowers are catkins and often appear before leaves.

Raceme Unbranched, indeterminate type of inflorescence bearing pedicellate flowers along its axis

A raceme or racemoid is an unbranched, indeterminate type of inflorescence bearing pedicellate flowers along its axis. In botany, an axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In indeterminate inflorescence-like racemes, the oldest flowers are borne towards the base and new flowers are produced as the shoot grows, with no predetermined growth limit. A plant that flowers on a showy raceme may have this reflected in its scientific name, e.g. Cimicifuga racemosa. A compound raceme, also called a panicle, has a branching main axis. Examples of racemes occur on mustard and radish plants.

Hazel Genus of trees

The hazel (Corylus) is a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels into a separate family Corylaceae. The fruit of the hazel is the hazelnut.

<i>Corylus avellana</i> Species of tree (common hazel)

Corylus avellana, the common hazel, is a species of hazel native to Europe and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Iberia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, north to central Scandinavia, and east to the central Ural Mountains, the Caucasus, and northwestern Iran. It is an important component of the hedgerows that were the traditional field boundaries in lowland England. The wood was traditionally grown as coppice, the poles cut being used for wattle-and-daub building and agricultural fencing.

<i>Salix × fragilis</i> Species of tree

Salix × fragilis, with the common names crack willow and brittle willow, is a hybrid species of willow native to Europe and Western Asia. It is native to riparian habitats, usually found growing beside rivers and streams, and in marshes and water meadow channels. It is a hybrid between Salix euxina and Salix alba, and is very variable, with forms linking both parents.

<i>Salix herbacea</i> Species of herb

Salix herbacea, the dwarf willow, least willow or snowbed willow, is a species of tiny creeping willow adapted to survive in harsh arctic and subarctic environments. Distributed widely in alpine and arctic environments around the North Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the smallest of woody plants.

<i>Corylus maxima</i> Species of tree

Corylus maxima, the filbert, is a species of hazel in the birch family Betulaceae, native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from the Balkans to Ordu in Turkey.

Hamamelididae is an obsolete botanical name at the rank of subclass. Because some hamamelidid members bear aments, this subclass has been formerly known as Amentiferae. Based on molecular phylogeny works, Hamamelididae appears to be a polyphyletic group.

<i>Salix magnifica</i> Species of willow

Salix magnifica is a species of willow in the family Salicaceae. It is endemic to Sichuan in southwestern China, where it grows at high altitudes of 2,100–3,000 m above sea level. It is threatened by habitat loss.

<i>Corylus heterophylla</i> Species of tree

Corylus heterophylla, the Asian hazel, is a species of hazel native to eastern Asia in northern and central China, Korea, Japan, and southeastern Siberia.

<i>Coleophora anatipennella</i> Species of moth

Coleophora anatipennella is a moth of the case-bearer family (Coleophoridae).

<i>Salix arbusculoides</i> Species of flowering plant

Salix arbusculoides is a species of flowering plant in the willow family known by the common name littletree willow. It is native to northern North America, where its distribution extends across Alaska and most of Canada.

Salix fuscescens is a species of flowering plant in the willow family known by the common name Alaska bog willow. It is native to northern North America, where it occurs throughout much of Alaska and across northern Canada. It is also present in Eurasia.

<i>Salix richardsonii</i> Species of flowering plant

Salix richardsonii is a species of flowering plant in the Salicaceae, or willow family. It is known by the common names Richardson's willow and woolly willow. It is native to Russia and northern North America, where it occurs in Alaska and northern Canada. Some authorities consider it to be a subspecies, Salix lanata subsp. richardsonii(Hook.) A. K. Skvortsov rather than a species itself.

Salix petrophila, commonly known as alpine willow and Rocky Mountain willow, is a Northwest American mountain shrub in the willow family (Salicaceae).

<i>Salix argyracea</i> Salix argyracea common name

Salix argyracea is a large shrub from the genus of willow (Salix) with up to 10 centimeters long leaf blades with a felty hairy and shiny underside. The natural range of the species is in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China.

Salix annulifera is a small shrub from the genus of the willow (Salix) with up to 8 centimeter long leaf blades. The natural range of the species is in China.

Salix delavayana is a shrub or small tree from the genus willow (Salix) with mostly 3 to 8 centimeters long leaf blades. The natural range of the species is in the south of China and in Tibet.

Salix dissa is a low shrub from the genus willow (Salix) with usually 1 to 3 centimeters long leaf blades. The natural range of the species is in China.

Salix eriostachya is a species from the genus of willows (Salix) and grows as a shrub. The leaf blades are 4 to 11 centimeters long. The natural range of the species is in India, Nepal, and China.

References

  1. January 2015, 30. "An early catkin year". www.bbc.com.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. Savolainen, V., M. W. Chase, S. B. Hoot, C. M. Morton, D. E. Soltis, C. Bayer, M. F. Fay, A. Y. De Bruijn, S. Sullivan, and Y.-L. Qiu. 2000. Phylogenetics of flowering plants based on combined analysis of plastid atpB and rbcL gene sequences. Systematic Biology 49:306-362.
  3. Soltis, D. E. et alii. (28 authors). 2011. "Angiosperm phylogeny: 17 genes, 640 taxa". American Journal of Botany98(4):704-730. doi : 10.3732/ajb.1000404
  4. Cronk Q. C. B., Needham I., and Rudall P. J. 2015. Evolution of catkins: inflorescence morphology of selected Salicaceae in an evolutionary and developmental context. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2015; 6: 1030. doi : 10.3389/fpls.2015.01030
  5. "Catkin", Oxford English Dictionary (Second ed.), 1989, retrieved 30 November 2009
  6. "Zoekresultaten". www.etymologiebank.nl.
  7. "Ament", Oxford English Dictionary (Second ed.), 1989, retrieved 30 November 2009