As we enter another month and a chill northerly wind drives temperatures down, it’s encouraging to know that signs of spring are appearing.

Along with the appearance of snowdrops (posts passim), the swelling of hazel catkins is another early sign of an impending change of season.

The photograph below was taken yesterday at the junction of Stapleton Road, Trinity Road and Lawford’s Gate in Easton.

image of catkins

According to Wikipedia:

A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, 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 which is often drooping.

Hazel catkins are the male flowers of the plant.

The female flowers – as shown in the photo below – are much smaller and harder to spot.

image of female hazel flower

The change from winter to spring was admirably encapsulated by the final couplet of Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s 1819 Ode to the West Wind.

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?