Spruced-up swirls

Focus-Science and Technology - - Megapixel -

EACH SPRING, TEN­DRILS of brightly coloured spruce pollen swirl over the sur­face of Bavaria’s Lake Stern­berg. Un­like flow­er­ing plants, which are typ­i­cally pol­li­nated by in­sects, spruce trees rely on ran­dom wind cur­rents to dis­perse their pollen. Ob­vi­ously, this is a much less pre­cise process, which means that vast quan­ti­ties must be pro­duced in or­der to en­able suc­cess­ful re­pro­duc­tion. As a re­sult much of the pollen ends up go­ing astray, cre­at­ing large de­posits of thick yel­low dust as seen here.

“Pollen from spruce and pine keep their struc­ture in wa­ter, whereas other pollen bursts,” says Chris­tian Bergmann from the Ger­man Pollen In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice. “Large quan­ti­ties are re­leased when con­di­tions are sunny, dry and a bit windy. Ev­ery year you of­ten see pine and spruce pollen in the wa­ter – even in the Baltic Sea.”

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