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Posted on February 1, 2011 by Ash
Welcome to the Fifty-Sixth Edition of the Festival of the Trees! You’ve come here because we share a common interest in trees, you and I. Yet how we each think of trees – how we see them – is something unique to us as individuals.
Poetry & stories
There are two poems to Festival 56. In his poem Fall at Highbanks, Steve Meador evokes pleasant autumnal scenes. Conversely, the protagonist in Charlie Hughes’ poem Ash to Ash sees only death in the fall as all around his workshop trees are ravaged by the emerald ash borer.
Conservation & environmental science
Tracy McVeigh, writing in the The Observer, tells of a new and disturbing twist in the ongoing story of sudden oak death. When the disease arrived in the UK a decade ago, scientists feared devastation amongst our native oak population (a different strain has killed millions of oaks in California). Thankfully the outbreak never lived up to the hype, but last year the disease began to rapidly infect and kill larch trees – now the race is on to stop it.
Enjoyment & learning
Rebecca of A Year With the Trees tells how she patiently learnt to identify the black cherry in winter, starting with the beautiful flowers that blossom in the springtime. Meanwhile, Laura has been hunting the black poplar. She has written a fine article regarding the tree at Patiopatch that takes in a visit to a solitary specimen in London’s Russell Square. A native of Britain and Ireland, the black poplar is also one of our rarest trees and the remaining population is sadly threatened by interbreeding with imported poplar species.
Only one! At Writings from Wild Soul, Wrensong tells how she has been thinking of the trees, ‘listening down into the roots, into the winter dreams of the Rooted Ones, remembering dreams of the Great Tree, the One Tree…’
Jasmine of Natures Whispers, inspired by contributions to the previous Festival of the Trees (hosted by Jasmine), has ‘wrapped’ some of the trees in her back garden – ‘It will be interesting to see how the passing seasons will decorate these cottons.’ In a separate post (which includes a link to some impressive ‘tree shaping’ art), Jasmine tells of how one submission regarding a collaborative project to construct a willow yurt has sent her imagination running wild!
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There we go. Thank-you for visiting – I hope you’ve found something of interest to you here. I’d also like to thank all who contributed to this edition of the Festival of the Trees, and I thank Dave, Pablo and Jade for allowing me to host the Festival for a third time.
Posted on February 10, 2011 by Ash
This post is all about the fungi growing on a horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) with bleeding canker in the Ewden valley. In a previous post all about different fungi growing on a horse chestnut tree with bleeding canker in the Ewden valley, I wrote “…a road running along the northern shore of More Hall Reservoir is lined predominantly by horse chestnut and cherry trees. Virtually every single horse chestnut on this mile-long stretch is in a … bad way, and I am quite sure that bleeding canker is the cause. I think I’ll have much to say on this in future posts!” Well, here’s a start.
First let me introduce you to the tree. It’s in catastrophically bad condition; it has a serious bleeding canker infection and, as apparent from this massive wound, half the tree has broken off sometime last year.
The remainder of the tree is covered in extensive bark cracks symptomatic of bleeding canker. I can’t imagine it being long before the large branch heading out to the right in this photograph breaks off. The orange fungi you can just about make out in this photo – growing on the trunk, the branch, and in the union between the branch and the remaining upright stem – are the focus of the rest of this post.
This photo (taken a month ago on the 8th of January) shows a cluster of mushrooms that sprout from the trunk at about breast height. Here they are at a juvenile stage looking real slimy.
A fortnight later (on the 21st of January) and they’ve turned a darker shade of orange. I’ve identified them – with 99% confidence – as Flammulina velutipes - the velvet stem, velvet foot or winter mushroom (or, according to MushroomExpert.Com, the “At Least Something’s Out In January” mushroom!) It is one of only a few mushrooms around at this time of year, but F. velutipes is “only likely to fruit during warm spells, so if there is snow covering the ground you’re not likely to find it.” True enough, we’ve had no snow since Christmas.
This photo taken with the zoom shows a massive crack on the aforementioned branch and a cheeky little cluster of F. velutipes growing from the exposed dead wood.
The cluster yesterday.
Flammulina velutipes - things you should be knowing: It’s edible and tasty. It can be frozen solid and still produce spores after thawing out. It’s a common species, fruiting from October to March. It’s a saprotroph, growing on the dead wood of broadleaf species – mainly horse chestnut and elms (Ulmus).
This tree deserves your pity.
Next month’s FOTT will be hosted by Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods. Once again the theme is open and the deadline this month is the 27th. You’ll find the call for the submissions at the Festival of the Trees co-ordinating blog.
Posted on February 13, 2011 by Ash
Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a dead horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum).
I’m sorry if you’re thinking “What? Another post about fungi on a horse chestnut?”, but that’s just how the dice are falling! This particular tree stands not too far from the horse chestnut in the last post, set back a little from the road that runs the length of More Hall Reservoir in the Ewden Valley. It is completely dead, and probably died a few years ago. I don’t think it was killed by bleeding canker, which probably didn’t reach these parts until after the tree had died anyway. Nowadays it’s a big chunk of standing deadwood happily rotting away under a host of hungry fungi, the most noticeable one being the oyster mushroom.
As you can see, the stem is home to a fair few clusters of them. I made a little post last year when I found some of the same on a knackered lime tree (Tilia sp.) on a street in Sheffield.
The oyster mushroom is common on dead trunks and branches of broadleaved species, also occurring rarely on conifers. It can be found throughout the year although it fruits mainly in summer and autumn. Young mushrooms are excellently edible.
This fungus was growing from the base of the tree. I think it’s Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers.
This was also at the base of the tree, tucked between two buttresses. It looks to me like another fungus, but I’ve no idea what species it is. I’ll have to keep a look out for any developments!
Posted on February 26, 2011 by Ash
Lambs’ tails - the all-male catkins of hazel (Corylus avellana). I took the photographs in this post today in the rural Ewden Valley, but I saw hazels with their catkins already fully unfurled in the middle of January in Sheffield.
This is a female flower, which will hopefully grow into a hazelnut one day. Both male and female parts are found on the same individual, i.e. hazel is a monoecious species.
This hazel growing at Carr House Meadows (a nature reserve in the care of the Sheffield Wildlife Trust) was absolutely covered with golden catkins!
I only found out about the flowers of hazel a couple of years ago, but I now know them as a most welcome sign of approaching spring. How could I ever have missed them?
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) buds are almost ready to open...
…and these beech (Fagus sylvatica) buds have certainly grown in size, tiny cigars no longer.
What a display!
Hazel catkins have been out in force for a few weeks now and many of them are now past their best, turning brown and dry.
More of the female flowers. Is it just me or do they bear a slight resemblance to tiny cuttlefish?
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