What are those tiny brown cones that are covering my driveway?

Are small, brown cones covering your road, driveway, porch, or deck. What are they?

These are pollen cones (i.e., male cones) of Douglas-firs, Pseudotsuga menziesii.

During the past few weeks — at least where I live — a super-abundance of these pollen cones fell from the trees, covering all horizontal surfaces outdoors.

We're still tracking them into the house, even though we take our shoes off at the door.

All trees in the Pacific NW have female and male reproductive parts. On Douglas-firs, the female parts are the familiar "mousetail" cones. The male parts are less-familiar pollen cones. To learn more, click here.

On Douglas-firs, the male pollen cones are often inconspicuous, especially after the pollen disperses into the air and the pollen cones fall off. On the forest floor, they are small and lack the woody structure of the "mousetail" seed cones. People  barely notice them.

This year, fallen pollen cones of Douglas-firs seem to have covered every horizontal surface. Maybe you've been outside sweeping or raking or blowing. I have.

To see a close-up photo of male and female cones on a Douglas-fir, click here.

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