White fluff is coating Chicago sidewalks, yards, and window sills. Those are cottonwood seeds, and they’re everywhere.
What’s with all the fluff? Cottonwood trees are masting, which is when a heckuva lot more seeds than usual are produced.
How many seeds are we talking about? One female eastern cottonwood tree can drop almost 50 million seeds, which are covered in thin white hairs that help carry the seeds far. But few actually germinate.
Why so much fluff now? Scientists don’t know exactly, but masting helps trees reproduce. Last year’s warm and dry weather also played a role in triggering the fluff storm.
How are Chicagoans affected? The white fluff might be sticking to your clothes and contributing to allergies as fertilized trees release pollen.
Want fluff no more? Try water — it’s the only reliable way to remove!