Specimen #44 Willow
Photo by me, Raccoon River Nature Park
I'm unsure what kind of willow this is. I've looked at enough images to be confused about all of them. My guess is a sand bar willow, and we'll be able to confirm once leaves come out. Maybe. Catkins are the flowers that some trees have. Our paper birch has catkins.
These catkins are larger and looser than the traditional pussy willow at the floral shop ($2/stem). I'm not sure if the different is due to the kind of flower (male vs. female) or kind of willow. The _Handbook of Nature Study_ by Anna Botsford Comstock has a chapter about willows. The kids were very interested as I read it aloud.
Here are the tips of the branches. I had a hard time getting the trees in the viewfinder of my camera with the beach being narrow.
One interesting thing about willows is that they take root from snapped off branches and twigs. This means that fallen willow branches can float downstream until they wash ashore, then grow where they land. We now plan to observe the rooting habits of twigs to confirm our reading -- right side up, right side down, and sideways.