noun Botany.
a spike of unisexual, apetalous flowers having scaly, usually deciduous bracts, as of a willow or birch.
Also called ament.

1570–80; < Dutch katteken little cat (now obsolete). See cat, -kin

catkinate [kat-kuh-neyt] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
catkin (ˈkætkɪn)
Also called: ament an inflorescence consisting of a spike, usually hanging, of much reduced flowers of either sex: occurs in birch, hazel, etc
[C16: from obsolete Dutch katteken kitten, identical in meaning with French chaton, German Kätzchen]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1578, from Du. katteken "flowering stem of willow, hazel, etc.," lit. "kitten," dim. of katte "cat." So called for their soft, furry appearance.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
catkin   (kāt'kĭn)  Pronunciation Key 
A long, thin, indeterminate inflorescence of tiny, petalless flowers growing on willows, birches, oaks, poplars, and certain other trees. The flowers on a catkin are either all male or all female. The female flowers are usually pollinated by the wind. Also called ament. See illustration at inflorescence.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
They produce yellowish cream colored catkin flowers in the spring, followed by
  seed pods varying in shape and size.
Each catkin at the tip of twigs is formed of many flowers.
Catkin becomes fascinated by a butterfly and forgets his duty.
In the spring, the catkin will open and give off pollen.
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