The Boys Are Back in Town

If you are allergic to oak trees or pine trees, you’re about ready to cry, or perhaps you already are because your eyes are so watery you can’t see. I wrote about pollen in a previous blog, and can’t seem to stay away from the topic. Pollen is often evident on our cars this time of year. A tinge of fine yellow dust is a reminder that love is in the air. The producers of that pollen are evident too, we just might not know where to look. So, when I say, “the boys are back in town.” I’m not kidding. They are in town, on the ground, and can be found! They don’t make a sound and aren’t quite round. Hmmm, maybe I can make this blog rhyme…

We often think of pollinators when it comes to pollination,

But when it comes to pines, we have to use our imagination

Pines are gymnosperms, which means they have no flowers

No flowers means no pollinators, so they have to use other powers

They use the wind to share their love

To receiving pine cones hanging high above


They start off purple and quickly turn yellow

I said they are boys, but I could call them fellows

Boy pine cones, is that what you mean?

Well, yes, but it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen

Unless you’ve seen a spongy caterpillar before

It’s the best I’ve come up with, no folklore

The next time you see one, give it a tap

But hold your breath so you don’t collapse

It’s pollen you’ll see

Tiny yellow particles of no interest to a bee

I think it’s safe to say, everyone loves a pine cone, the female ones that is

But, as they say, it takes two to tango, you don’t have to be a wiz

So don’t get down

When the boys are back in town

It’s the circle of life of pines

So, keep an eye out for the signs

Spongy caterpillars and yellow dust

Just simply mean it’s time for pine lust!

You can nerd out more in our “Science of Pine Cones” podcase episode on Naturally Florida. If you want to learn more about pines in Pinellas, you can check out this on-demand webinar. And, if you want to nerd out in-person, join me on my next guided hike at Brooker Creek Preserve on Friday, March 1st starting at 9:00am. You can follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our monthly e-campaign, or keep an eye on our website for registration.


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Posted: February 8, 2024

Category: Natural Resources
Tags: Lmilligan, Pines, Pollen, Pollination, Trees

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