If you've been outside in Montreal in the past few days, you've probably received a face full of the fluffy white annual menace that is the seed of the eastern cottonwood tree.
According to Toronto Gardens, the tree releases its spawn by the millions each June. Though Lake Forest College describes the Eastern Cottonwood as "one of the oldest and largest hardwood trees" on the continent, Canadians demonstrate no deference for its cotton-like seeds.
The seeds are melt-in-your-mouth but in the worst way. They are the scourge of many a Montreal cyclist, who now must not only maneuver between oblivious drivers, but also dodge the insidious summer snowflakes.
One Twitter user aptly points out that bikers "unwittingly becoming the tree’s delivery system to the furthest parts of the city!"
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that a single tree can produce up to 48 MILLION seeds each year.
Unfortunately, Montreal is squarely within the cottonwood's Canadian range, according to Natural Resources Canada. Though the government conveniently (suspiciously) leaves out any mention of its seeds and the havoc they inflict. They can also be seen on the Toronto islands.
A "phenomenal nuisance" they are indeed!
Montrealers will have to endure about another month of these fuzzy fiends. Northern populations of cottonwoods continue to release their seeds through mid-July, according to the USDA.
Expect to see cottonwood seed accumulating on streets, cars, and in your hair. Though annoying, they are completely harmless. This site suggests that nothing will happen in the case of accidental consumption, so rest assured.
For more information on the seed of the eastern cottonwood tree, visit the website for Environmental Studies at Lake Forest College here.
Canadian Tree Tours has good information on how to identify eastern cottonwood trees here.
Good luck dodging!