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Posted on January 2, 2009 by Ash
Happy New Year treeblog reader! 2008 went out in style – we had a beautiful hoar frost on New Year’s Eve that stayed for two days. I can’t ever remember there being one of these where I live before, but I saw one in Scotland a winter or two ago. Every twig, leaf, cobweb and blade of grass resplendent under a coating of spiky white frost!
These silver birches (Betula pendula) looked even more silvery than usual.
Cider gum No. 9, like all the treeblog trees, was frosted up. This, in only their second winter, is their first real test of frost tolerance.
Cider gum No. 3, one of the smaller gums.
The very top of grey alder No. 4, the pride of treeblog. I hope those buds haven’t been damaged.
Just one of the many frosted cobwebs that were hung around the garden, all of which were so well highlighted by the frost that they really jumped out and caught the eye.
P.S. 2009's first edition of the Festival of the Trees is up at Rock Paper Lizard, so go enjoy! Next month's edition of the festival will be hosted here at treeblog - information for how to submit will be posted shortly!
Posted on January 6, 2009 by Ash
This is a call. A call for submissions for the next Festival of the Trees – the thirty-second edition - which will be published here at treeblog on the 1st of February! Please submit your blog posts, photographs, poetry, works of art, articles, news pieces, bark rubbings and anything else tree-related to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, making sure that Festival of the Trees or FOTT is contained in the subject header. Alternatively, you can use the online submission form at blogcarnival.com. You do not need to be the author or artist of the content you submit.
Posted on January 11, 2009 by Ash
We’re not yet a fortnight into the new year but I’ve already been casting an eye back over 2008, picking out my five favourite treeblog photos from the year that was. For a photograph to qualify for consideration, I must have taken it in the last year and subsequently featured it on this blog. Higher higher-res (1024px by 786px) copies can be found by clicking on the photos. In order of oldest first...
14th May 2008 The Aira Force money tree, with some of my eco-mates in the background. Back in May I stayed for four nights at the Whinfell Forest Center Parcs village with fifteen buddies, all of us finishing the final year of our ecological science degree at the University of Edinburgh. Mid-week, half of us headed into the Lake District to leave behind the Verruca Dome for a day. And what a beautiful summer day it was! Going along the shore of Ullswater, we spotted a car park and decided that there was no point in driving any further when we were already in such a perfect spot. And I’m so glad we did, because a short walk from the car park we discovered a piece of idyllic woodland complete with lovely stream – Aira Beck – an impressive waterfall – Aira Force – an unbelievably ginormous spruce, and this money tree. A perfect day, and it got even better back at our chalets with a roast dinner and plenty of beer pong.
27th July 2008 There was a spell of incredible weather at the end of July, just before I left Edinburgh behind and returned to Sheffield. I spent quite a bit of time at the Royal Botanic Garden, and on one of my visits I took this photograph of a common lime (Tilia x europaea) inflorescence. The common lime is a hybrid of the small- and broad-leaved limes (Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos respectively).
18th September 2008 I stayed over in my friends’ flat the night before I took this photo. They live in the middle of Sheffield, and in the morning I caught a train to Hope. I then spent a brilliant late summer’s day walking home through the Peak District. I crossed over the River Derwent at Slippery Stones using the 17th century packhorse bridge there. The bridge originally stood further downstream, but if it remained in that location today it would now lie beneath the waters of Ladybower Reservoir. When the reservoir was under construction in the first half of the 20th century, this old bridge was carefully dismantled stone by stone, with the position of each recorded, then reconstructed at its present location. This lonely birch stands just a little further along the path, at the bottom of Cranberry Clough.
26th September 2008 A pearl-studded puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum). It’ll not be long before I plant treeblog’s next set of seedlings – birch, rowan, and sweet chestnut. Near the end of September I went on a mish to collect rowan berries and birch seeds – probably downy birch (Betula pubescens), possibly silver birch (Betula pendula): I sometimes cannot make up my mind with these tricky trees. There were a fair few pearl-studded puffballs under my big birch of choice and I was glad to see they were all in tip-top condition. The only time before I’d seen these things – down in Thetford the previous February – they had been old and dry and liable to shoot out a puff of spores if you stepped on one. And you wouldn’t want a lungful of those; Lycoperdon perlatum spores have microscopic spines and will severely irritate lungs if inhaled in sufficient quantity – lycoperdonosis.
6th December 2008 Deadwood at twilight (probably larch or pine), taken within a kilometre of the above photo but later in the day and year. I took a walk with my father in the chilly late-afternoon-turning-evening through my favourite hunting ground and we found ourselves at this picturesque spot with a bright moon and a clear sky. We both took a lot of photos (I can remember how cold my hands got); of mine, this is my favourite.
Posted on January 16, 2009 by Ash
What is a gall? The British Plant Gall Society’s site has a good definition from Redfern & Shirley’s British Plant Galls:
A gall is an abnormal growth produced by a plant or other host under the influence of another organism. It involves enlargement and/or proliferation of host cells, and provides both shelter and food or nutrients for the invading organism.
British oaks are particularly rich in galls. Here is just a tiny sample.
A pair of oak marble galls (one not fully developed) caused by asexual Andricus kollari larvae. A. kollari is a member of the family Cynipidae, “whose members are of special interest because most of them induce gall formation on plants and many of them display a marked alteration between sexual and parthenogenetic generations. They are called gall wasps… Most of the European species occur on oaks, although some species attack roses and certain herbaceous plants. There are about 90 British species.” - from Chinery’s Insects of Britain & Northern Europe (Collins Field Guide, 1993). This page at hedgerowmobile.com details the life-cycle of A. kollari and has good photos of the wasps and larvae with cross-sections of the gall.
A pair of artichoke galls caused by asexual Andricus fecundator larvae. Another gall wasp, A. fecundator is closely related to A. kollari. I’ve known about marble galls since I was a kid, but my first encounter with an artichoke gall came recently, in September 2007, on a university field trip to Kintyre. How did I ever miss them? hedgerowmobile.com has an A. fecundator page too.
An unknown gall. Perhaps a partially formed marble gall?
An unknown bud gall. If you recognise this gall and can ID the causal agent, please leave a comment.
Enough galls; how about some fungi? This weirdness has taken over the underside of this branch. The top side is covered with leprose lichen.
More leprose lichen. Notice how it only grows on the right side of the branch. There must be a favourable microclimate there, perhaps because of sunlight or exposure.
Another lichen; this one is fruitcose. As for what species it is… I wish I could tell you.
The subjects of all those photographs were found on this one English or pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Even though it has split in two, both halves continue to grow; in fact, the large branch that goes off to the right is impressively long.
One more thing! A reminder about the next edition of the Festival of the Trees, which treeblog will be hosting. Please submit your blog posts, photographs, poetry, works of art, articles, news pieces, bark rubbings and anything else tree-related to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, making sure that Festival of the Trees or FOTT is contained in the subject header. Alternatively, you can use the online submission form at blogcarnival.com. You do not need to be the author or artist of the content you submit. Although there is no theme this month, it would make my day if you submit something pertaining to a particular favourite tree of yours! The deadline for submissions is the 30th of January, so that leaves you a fortnight to get them in. Get to it!
Posted on January 25, 2009 by Ash
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