catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind- pollinated ( anemophilous) but sometimes insect-pollinated (as in ). They contain many, usually Salix unisexual flowers, arranged closely along a central stem which is often drooping. They are found in many plant families, including Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Moraceae, and Salicaceae. For some time, they were believed to be a key synapomorphy among the proposed Hamamelididae, but it is now believed that this flower arrangement has arisen independently by convergent evolution on a number of occasions.
In many of these plants only the male flowers form catkins, and the female flowers are single (
hazel, oak), a cone ( alder) or other types ( mulberry). In other plants (such as poplar) both male and female flowers are borne in catkins.
Catkin-bearing plants include many other
trees or shrubs such as birch, willow, hickory, sweet chestnut and sweetfern ( Comptonia).
catkin is a loanword from the old Dutch katteken, meaning "kitten", on account of the resemblance to a kitten's tail. [1 ] Ament is from the Latin amentum, meaning "thong" or "strap". [2 ]
Young male catkin of a willow
Three male catkins on a
Female flowering catkin on a willow (
References [ edit ]
^ Catkin, Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989. Accessed 30 November 2009. 
^ Ament, Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989. Accessed 30 November 2009. 
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