Alder shrubs are common along stream sides and lake banks. These are among the earliest blooming flowers that you may encounter in the spring. I found these blooming in mid-February! The flowers are monoecious. Note the reddish pistillate (female) flowers on the tips of the twigs. The long staminate (male) flowers are loaded with pollen. When I held the branch to take the photo, the flowers nearly exploded with pollen! In the floral world males are expendable, these flowers will fall off in a couple of weeks. I took this picture at Ijams Nature Center in south Knoxville.
Where seen: Ijams Nature Center, Oak Ridge Greenways