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It's snowing! Airborne fluff is going crazy across Michiana

No, you're not imagining things. It looks like it's snowing outside despite the sun shining and temperatures in the 80s. Of course, we all know it's not actually snow that's flying around in Michiana.

So what are these white balls of fluff? They're actually seeds from cottonwood trees, which fall within the poplar family! Once the weather gets warm enough, these tall trees begin letting their seeds fly around. Interestingly enough, they are not related to cotton plants in any way.

Areas where there are multiple cottonwood trees can actually see these fluffy white seeds pile up just like snow would during the winter. Fortunately, they aren't slippery and typically don't stick to roadways due to their tendency to fly away when even the lightest breeze blows. But why are these seeds the way they are? 

Well, the white material that gives the seeds their fluffy, cloud-like appearance is actually not the seed. The seeds are located smack dab in the middle of all of the fluff. But the fluffy material does serve a purpose.

It consists of seed hair fibers, which help the seed easily float around through the air. By doing this, the seeds can travel farther distances than other tree seeds, giving cottonwood trees a wide range of distribution! Does every fluffy seed that hits the ground turn into a cottonwood tree? No, but having mobile seeds benefits the species overall. 

If you're an allergy sufferer, you need not worry, though. These seeds do not cause allergic reactions like pollen would. If you breathe one in while driving down the road, the feather-like texture may cause you to sneeze, but they do not have the same qualities as pollen. 

If these cotton balls just simply annoy you, just wait a few weeks. They only fall heavily for 2-3 weeks or so every year. So, if you can hold out until late June (around the 25th), you should see a substantial decrease in these cottonwood seeds! 

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