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August 2008

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (27th July 2008) Part 2: Assorted photographs

common lime inflorescence

Inflorescence on a common lime a.k.a. European linden (Tilia x europaea). The common lime is a hybrid of the small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) and the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos).

cider gum

A cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) tree!

ribbon gum and cider gum

Two eucalypts in front of one of the glasshouses: another cider gum on the right, and in the background a ribbon gum a.k.a. manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis).

cider gum foliage and seed pods

Cider gum foliage and seed pods. These are the ‘mature form’ leaves, as opposed to the ‘juvenile form’ leaves currently seen on treeblog’s own cider gums.

a grove of six giant sequoias

A grove of six giant sequoias a.k.a. Sierra redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). The largest tree in the world, General Sherman, is a giant sequoia.

large sweet chestnut tree

This sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) tree has a massive trunk, which splits into three huge boughs.

looking up a large sweet chestnut bough

Looking up one of the huge boughs. I saw three different sweet chestnuts in the Garden and all were of massive girth. I bet they are easily some of the biggest trees in the collection.

sweet chestnut male flowers and developing cupules

Male sweet chestnut catkins in full bloom. The bright green spiny female parts will develop into the distinctive spiky cupules which each usually contain three chestnuts.

Posted in Gone for a walk

treeblog update (Set A, Day 495)

Before I get on with the Set A stuff, I want to sort out a few loose threads. I want to cut one off and I want to weave the other back into the treeblog tapestry. Remember the only tree seedling that grew from Set B - the downy birch? In this post from the beginning of July I remarked that “it’s not exactly radiating health”. Well I don’t know when it happened, but it died. Not exactly a surprise, but it would have been nice to have had something to show from the miserable Set B.

The second loose end is a seedling that is from neither Set A nor Set B, but rather somewhere in between. I’m going to call it the post-Set A unknown seedling from now on until I can identify whatever the hell it is. I am talking about the surviving seedling of the two found in the Set A alder seed tray last winter. At first I thought they were another two alders that were just late in sprouting. When it became apparent that they weren’t alders, I thought that they might be birches. Then one died, and it is now apparent that the survivor isn’t a birch. So now I am wondering whether it might be a willow, but I suppose that it’s probably just a weed.

post-Set A unknown seedling

The surviving post-Set A unknown seedling (photograph taken yesterday). Check out the Photo-timeline for this seedling.

Let’s crack on with the Set A update. Today I have photos of the alders and Scots pines, and in a few days time I’ll have another update for the cider gums. First of all, I must say that I have been wrong about the alders. I have been calling them common alders (Alnus glutinosa), but it has become apparent that they aren’t. I have become almost certain, however, that they are in fact grey alders (Alnus incana). I have reached this conclusion after staring at leaves that don’t look much like common alder leaves but look a lot like grey alder leaves. Long time readers of treeblog may remember that I originally called the alders ‘treeblog surprises’. The reason behind this is explained in this post from October 2007. If you read that post, you’ll see the following:

So why the uncertainty over whether the treeblog surprises are common alders or not? Well, I know for a fact that they are alders. I’m just ever so slightly unsure as to the species of alder. I am willing to bet good money that they are common alders, that species being native to most of Britain. But I know that the grey alder (Alnus incana) is often planted on reclaimed tips (according to my Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain and Northern Europe by Alan Mitchell, 1974) – i.e. Gowkley Moss [where I collected the seed]. And seeing as how my memory… is pretty rubbish, I’m not sure what species of alder I was collecting seed from. Pretty stupid of me, but to be fair it was winter, the trees were leafless, and I wasn’t an expert in telling apart common and grey alder.

So if I had “bet good money” that treeblog’s alders are common alders I would have lost it all, what with the people reclaiming the Gowkley Moss coal bing obviously having planted grey alders. Bloody typical. But not the end of the world. So as not to mislead future treeblog visitors who may browse the archives or arrive via a search engine, I have updated all previous posts and images relating to treeblog’s common – I mean grey – alders. What fun!
Anyway, here are all four grey alders as they were yesterday – Day 495:

grey alders Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Grey alders (from left to right) Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4. No. 4 truly is something incredible. But there is bad news. As you might be able to see from the photo, Nos. 1 and 2 are wilting at the top, and No. 4 has a few damaged leaves. The wilting is obviously caused by lack of water and the soil in the pots was bone dry, even though they were watered the night before. Just one morning in the sun had dried the soil out completely. These trees need planting into the ground a.s.a.p., but as I have nowhere to plant them the best I can do is get them in some really big pots. At least it rained all day today.

Scots pine Alpha

The Alpha Scots pine. Good to see its spindly lower stem has thickened up, but Ah dinnae ken what to think about its bizarrely long needles. I’m sure they’re not normal.

Scots pine Gamma

The Gamma Scots pine. Again, what’s with the outlandishly long needles?

This month's Festival of the Trees (No. 26) can be found over at Fox Haven Journal. Go read!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 497):
cider gums Nos. 1 to 7

(All photos in this post were taken yesterday – Day 497.) Before I begin reeling off the cider gums - Nos. 1 to 7 today and Nos. 8 to 15 in the next post – I’d like to show you a couple of photos of grey alder No. 1. The last post, on Tuesday, showed the four alders looking rather limp and dehydrated. But worry not! After taking appropriate measures, they have all perked up and are looking fine again.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1 looking fine and dandy just two days after being all limp and flaccid.

leaf damage to grey alder No. 1

Some of the alders have leaf damage like this, which was found on No. 1. When I looked under the leaf, I found the culprit (inset) which looks like a leafhopper or a froghopper to me. I left it to its meal.

cider gum No. 1

Cider gum No. 1.

close up of cider gum No. 1’s main stem showing lenticels

A closer look at the main stem of cider gum No. 1 showing the lumpy surface typical to all of the cider gums. I guess the lumps must be lenticels, structures that allow gaseous exchange with the atmosphere.

cider gum No. 2

Cider gum No. 2.

cider gum No. 3

Cider gum No. 3: once affectionately known as ‘the Freak’, I don’t think it fair to call it that any longer. No. 3 is still one of the runts though, along with Nos. 6 and 15.

cider gum No. 4

Cider gum No. 4.

cider gum No. 5

Cider gum No. 5.

cider gum No. 6

Cider gum No. 6. This seedling has made some amazing progress since the beginning of the growing season (about the end of April), when it appeared as if it would never amount to anything.

cider gum No. 7

Cider gum No. 7: the biggest of all the cider gums. Top Gum.

the base of cider gum No. 7's main stem

The base of cider gum No. 7's main stem, now lignified. The yellowish balls are food pellets.

It’s worth having a look at the Photo-timelines page where you can see uninterrupted the progress of each of the treeblog seedlings. From the cider gums shown above, the most interesting Photo-timelines to have a look at might be those for No. 3, No. 6, and No. 7.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 497):
cider gums Nos. 8 to 15

Cider gums Nos. 8 to 15, as they were on Wednesday the 6th (Day 497). There’s nothing more to say!

cider gum No. 8

Cider gum No. 8.

cider gum No. 9

Cider gum No. 9.

cider gum No. 10

Cider gum No. 10.

cider gum No. 11

Cider gum No. 11.

cider gum No. 12

Cider gum No. 12.

cider gum No. 13

Cider gum No. 13 – one half of the Branching Duo.

cider gum No. 14

Cider gum No. 14 – the other half of the Duo.

cider gum No. 15

Cider gum No. 15 – one of the smallest gums.

Don’t they all look swell? Come back next time for photos of things that are eating treeblog’s alders!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog alders host to caterpillars and insect eggs

There is bad news for treeblog’s grey alders: they are getting nibbled on! The cider gums and the Scots pines remain unnoticed by pests but the four alders are hosting aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers and/or froghoppers, miscellaneous eggs… and those are just the things that I’ve noticed. Many of the leaves are full or holes or are blighted by conspicuous dead patches. Some parts of leaves have been folded over and glued together by the silk of tiny caterpillars.

All of the photos in this post are of grey alder No. 1, one of the worst affected by these insect terrors.

swarm of tiny caterpillars on alder leaf

Tiny caterpillars swarm on the underside of a badly damaged leaf. [7th August]

damaged alder leaves

A view of the upper side of the same leaf alongside another leaf, damaged but not yet even fully unfurled. [7th August]

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

Insect eggs on the underside of a leaf, seen on the 7th of August. Notice the two oval eggs on the left, obviously belonging to a different species than the main body of round eggs.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A day later, on the 8th, and the round eggs have changed from white to caramel in colour.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A closer look reveals the eggs to be patterned, I guess from when they were squeezed out by the parent.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A few days later on the 12th of August and the eggs are now a dark purple / slate greyish colour. When will they hatch, and what will come out of them?

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

Update: The same cluster of eggs on the 15th of August. Notice how the two white eggs on the left have now hatched.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Collecting berries from a favourite rowan, Upper Midhope

It was a nice day on Friday, so I went for a walk around Langsett. I’ve been fancying growing some rowans for treeblog’s Set C (coming 2009), and it just so happened that my route took me past a couple of my favourites. The berries on the first rowan weren’t quite ripe, so I’ll have to go back in a week or so. The second rowan is a tree with plenty of character. Situated at the edge of a country lane a stone’s throw away from the pretty hamlet of Upper Midhope, half of the tree is a bleached silver skeleton. The other half of the tree, which forks in two about a metre from the ground, is also mostly dead but retains enough greenery to keep ticking over. It’s a beautiful tree, as you can see yourself from the photos below, which I took one fine day in the 2006 heatwave – August 24th.

the rowan

the bleached, dead half

looking up at the foliage

Until two days ago, I don’t think I’ve been past this rowan in the two years since I took those photos. Nevertheless, I had this charismatic tree in mind when I set off on my walk and it was my purpose to collect some of its berries for treeblog’s Set C. Imagine my dismay as I crested a ridge and couldn’t see the tree in its usual place. As I got closer, I found out why.

the rowan resting on a dry stone wall, having fallen over

What a shame! I don’t know if it was blown down in a storm, or whether it just collapsed – the base was pretty rotten (see the final photograph). The tree is still alive and its usual canopy is alive and well, complete with several clusters of berries. I guess the tree must have come down this year, judging by the angle of this year’s growth. What I don’t know is how long it has been this way. If it only came down recently – and we had some pretty nasty weather a week or so ago – the foliage may still look healthy even though the tree has no chance of surviving the coming months. Yet I hope that there is still enough vascular tissue connecting the roots to the now-horizontal upper parts for this rowan to continue to live for years to come. I also hope no farmer comes along and clears it away.

I collected a couple of berry clusters, which will be planted for treeblog’s next set. It’ll be a pleasure to raise this tree’s offspring.

the rowan lying on the wall

the rotten base

[Update (14 February 2009): The rowan is still in situ and it is still alive!]

[Update (24th May 2009): I visited today but the fallen tree has been cleared away, leaving just a stump. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that its seeds I planted for Set C germinate.]

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 515): grey alders and Scots pines

It’s time for another look at treeblog’s four grey alders and two Scots pines from Set A. I took the photos earlier today, 515 days after planting these beasts as seeds! The four alders are now sitting in huge black pots, after a repotting session last week.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1. This one has quite a lean going on, but it is exaggerated in this photo by some hefty wind.

grey alder No. 2

Grey alder No. 2. Still the smallest of the alders, but not so noticeably as at the beginning of the summer.

grey alder No. 3

Grey alder No. 3.

grey alder No. 4

Grey alder No. 4. The Beast is looking much more ‘3D’ as it beefs up its branches.

Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha Scots pine. The Scots pines seemed to have slowed down to almost a stand-still, growth-wise. They look tiny compared with the alders!

tiny branch on Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha pine does have this nifty little branch, however – the first one seen on a treeblog Scots pine.

Gamma Scots pine

The Gamma Scots pine.

Looking good, aren’t they? Next post I’ll show you the cider gums...

Posted in The treeblog trees

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