What’s all that fluff you’ve been seeing everywhere in Sweden?


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The weather outside may be frightful, but it has nothing to do with snow. Photo: Emelie Isacsson/TT

No, it is not snow in May. But what is that white cotton-like fluff that has blanketed Stockholm and other parts of Sweden this week? Here's your answer.

It's a record amount of seeds from the aspen tree, a type of poplar whose seeds are dispersed together with these feathery fluff balls which help the seeds float in the air to reach new sites.

It's a record amount for the past decade, but will not cause problems if you're allergic to pollen.

The fluff helps disperse the seeds of the aspen tree. Photo: Pontus Ahlkvist/TT

Pollen is released during flowering, which in the Stockholm region happened around a month ago for the aspen tree. It is only when the pollen has fertilized the flower that the seeds are released.

So the fluff itself – or as one biologist at the Swedish Natural History Museum referred to it when speaking to Swedish media, "God's belly button fluff" – will not cause allergic reactions, but its feather-like quality may still make you sneeze if you breathe it in.

If you are having a reaction to pollen, it could be oak or grass, which are currently flowering.

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