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January 2010

First call for February’s Festival of the Trees

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. It’s my pleasure to announce that treeblog will be hosting the 44th Festival of the Trees next month, so here’s what you gotta do. You’ve got the rest of the month to send all your tree-related submissions to me over at treeblog HQ, where a crack team of forest sprites are standing by to craft something worthy. What can you submit? Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

    The Festival of the Trees seeks:

  • original photos or artwork featuring trees
  • original essays, stories or poems about trees
  • audio and video of trees
  • news items about trees (especially the interesting and the off-beat)
  • philosophical and religious perspectives on trees and forests
  • scientific and conservation-minded perspectives on trees and forests
  • kids’ drawings of trees
  • dreams about trees
  • trees’ dreams about us
  • people who hug trees
  • people who make things out of trees
  • big trees
  • small trees
  • weird or unusual trees
  • sexy trees
  • tree houses
  • animals that live in, pollinate, or otherwise depend on trees
  • lichens, fungi or bacteria that parasitize or live in mutualistic relationships with trees
  • bark rubbings

    If you’re uncertain about whether a given item qualifies for inclusion, go ahead and send it in anyway.

Email your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT in the title line. Or you could use the festival contact form. The deadline for submissions is the 30th of January and the festival will go online on the 1st of February.

Bring it on!

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January’s edition of the Festival of the Trees can be enjoyed now over at xenogere Go read!.

Posted in Miscellany

Calm down dear, it’s only winter (3rd January 2010) (Part 1)

A snowy scene in Lower Whitwell Wood, looking west across Whitwell Moor to distant Millstones Wood.

It’s been snowing a lot lately. In fact, the last couple of weeks have made 2009/2010 the snowiest winter in these parts since 1981/1982. I went for a walk on Saturday afternoon when there was still plenty of snow around up on the tops. It snowed a lot Saturday evening, and I went for another walk Sunday afternoon on which I took these photos. Then yesterday the weather went beserk and it put down, on average, nine inches of snow around the house. And more snow is forecast! It’s brilliant!

A pair of reasonably lonely oaks not far from an even lonelier one.

This bleak and snowy scene may not have much in the way of trees, but I’ve included it here as it’s the view to the south-east from…

…the Lonely Oak. (There are now eleven different photos of the Lonely Oak on treeblog’s Flickr.)

There were a fair few tracks around the Lonely One. The two tracks in the bottom left part of the photo were made by one or more rabbits or hares, (likeliest to be rabbit, I’d say). From the book Animal Tracks and Signs by Bang and Dahlstøm (2001): Each of the regular print groups is made up of four separate footprints, at the back the two short fore prints, one behind the other almost in a line, and at the front the two hind prints, more side by side and usually longer than the fore prints. So the furthest-left track was made by a rabbit/hare heading towards the camera; the track to the right of it was made by a rabbit/hare heading away from the camera. The track with the funny lines coming out of the bottom right corner is probably from a little dog; the lines would have been made by paws skimming the top of the snow.

There were tiny icicles dangling from the Lonely Oak (an English oak, Quercus robur). Is that a gall I spy in the background?

The Trig Point atop the western Salter Hill.

A lovely pair of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). They appeared in a couple of posts last March when summer was near and snow wasn’t on my mind.

This would be the view from the top o’ the hill, looking south-west towards the darkly wooded upper Ewden Valley and Pike Lowe (on the horizon, slightly right of centre). Snowtastic.

A snowy cluster of mushrooms. This photo was taken on my Saturday walk, but I’ll sneak it in here. I love those gills.

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Posted in Gone for a walk

Calm down dear, it’s only winter (3rd January 2010) (Part 2)

I love this dead tree. I love the hill on which it used to grow. I love the view from this hill, especially towards the Ewden Valley and Broomhead Moor and Pike Lowe, all of which I also love. You might have seen this tree before.

[Part 1, sir? – more snow & trees, incl. the Lonely Oak.]

The dead tree stands among a cluster of stunted trees at one end of Millstones Wood. The trees in this photo are all Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) except for the one on the left, which is a beech (Fagus sylvatica).

The setting sun dripped molten gold over the glacial Broomhead Moor but did not thaw that frozen wilderness.

More of those stunted trees…

A wee beech cupule, its two little nuts replaced with one giant snow-nut.

A typical snowy scene inside Millstones Wood.

A whole load of what I’m sure are pine seeds scattered across the snow by a grey squirrel in the canopy above. As it jumped from branch to branch, the snow it dislodged fell in little avalanches to the ground.

I think this was the fallen tree that my and some mates climbed up back in high school days to have our dinner, which would make it the Picnic Tree. These days it’s better known for the frightful cage structure constructed around its exposed root system. Constructed by witches! It is witches, I’m telling you.

The Long Lane Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).

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February’s edition of the Festival of the Trees will be hosted by treeblog! So: people who read or look at or watch or create content on trees on blogs and/or other forms of internetery… please send in your submissions!

Do it.

Posted in Gone for a walk

The snow persists (10th January 2010) (Part 1)

The eastern Salter Hill.
3rd April 2009

The eastern Salter Hill.
10th January 2010

The western Salter Hill.
29th March 2009

The western Salter Hill.
10th January 2010

Bird tracks under a large yew (Taxus baccata) in the Ewden Valley. As I approached I disturbed several large gamebirds (pheasant or grouse - I am shamefully ignorant of the differences). A large blue barrel stands nearby, some kind of home-made feed dispenser. It must be very important for the birds in a winter like this one.

Looking west towards Pike Lowe. The cluster of trees on the left are alders (Alnus glutinosa) of Owler Carrs.

I took off my rucksack next to one of the alders, and as it lay on the floor snowflakes began to alight upon it. Proper, stereotypical snowflakes, landing and not immediately melting!

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Don’t forget that treeblog will be hosting next month’s Festival of the Trees. If you haven’t sent in your submission already, you’ve got until the 30th of January to do so.

Posted in Gone for a walk

The snow persists (10th January 2010) (Part 2)

Last Sunday when snow blanketed the country I thought it would be awesome if I could get up onto the moors to see Ewden Force, which was sure to be one sweet icicle fest. That turned out to be slightly over-ambitious. Once I got off the beaten path and onto the landrover track that goes up to the Broomhead shooting lodge the going got tough. The snow came to just below my knee and in places was up to the top of my legs! It was a super tough slog up the hill to the lodge but it felt like a real achievement once I made it       one       step       at       a       time. There was only an hour of daylight left after my snow-slowed progression, so I turned my back on the unreachable frozen waterfall wonder and with a slightly heavy heart and a very cold face retraced my lonely footprints. I was within one and a half kilometres of Ewden Force at the shooting lodge, but it might as well have been a thousand miles away. By the time I’d have gotten there it would have been dark and I would have perished in the wilderness or something. It would also have been rather dangerous: I’ve fallen down holes on the moors in broad daylight so who knows what you’re going to be falling down with all that snow concealing the true lay of the land? So no Ewden Force. Disappointing.

Ewden Valley, upper section.


Drifts around the lodge.


Looking across the snowbound valley.

Birch, probably downy (Betula pubescens).

It rained on Friday and Saturday – proper rain for the first time in weeks! – and washed away most of the snow. There are weather rumours that it may snow again mid-week (the BBC is forecasting heavy snow for Thursday)… and for much of February.

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Call for Submissions: Festival 44 Returns to the treeblog

Posted in Gone for a walk

Pests, diseases, disorders, competing growth and unfavourable conditions (a field trip): the diseases

Last Thursday my arboriculture class set out from college on a field trip to see a smörgåsbord of pests, diseases, disorders, competing growth and unfavourable conditions afflicting a variety of trees in the vicinity of York and Malton. Some of them were new to me, most I were already aware of, but it was a highly interesting way to spend a day and we got to see some cracking trees. Here’s a quick run-through of the diseases that we saw:

Supermassive sycamore (this photo falls a long way short of doing it justice) with decayed Dryad’s saddles. The one on the floor has fallen off the tree.

Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) – A bracket fungi. Described in Jordan’s Fungi 1 as “Large, creamy-brown scaly cap with cream pore-bearing under-surface, annual; parasitic on broad-leaf trees, also on stumps, favouring beech, elm and sycamore.” We only saw old and decaying specimens, but the sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) they had grown on were jaw-droppingly colossal - easily the biggest I’ve seen! These ancient sycamores formed an avenue along a road near Birdsall House. I’ve got to go back and get some decent photos of them in the summer before they collapse or get felled for safety reasons.

These crazy patterns are galleries produced by elm bark beetles.

Dutch elm disease – The Big Baddie. The current epidemic is caused by the fungus Ophiostma novo-ulmi, spread by elm bark beetles of the genus Scolytus. It is the most catastrophically devastating tree disease ever recorded in British history. On the field trip we saw a dead elm (Ulmus) replete with bark beetle galleries in the wood beneath the bark.

Cankers on a sycamore.

Canker – There are various kinds of cankers and a variety of causes of cankers. Strouts and Winter 2 define a canker as a “clearly defined patch of dead and sunken or malformed bark”. We saw cankers on sycamore and red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea) - a hybrid amusingly described in the Collins Tree Guide 3 as a tree of “rather endearing ugliness”.

Huge ivy-covered canker on a red horse chestnut.

Razor strop on silver birch.

Birch polypore or razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus) – Another bracket-producing fungus, it is restricted to birch (Betula). We saw loads of razor strops on dead and drying silver birches (Betula pendula) in a small piece of woodland that has become waterlogged as a consequence of mining subsidence.

Ganoderma on a veteran English oak.

Ganoderma - A genus of bracket- (polypore) producing fungi that is parasitic on broad-leafed species. We saw a large, dead Ganoderma at the base of a huge and ancient English oak (Quercus robur), but we didn’t identify it to species level. The oak was extremely diseased and its days are sadly numbered.

Slime flux on the same oak.

Slime flux or bacterial wetwood – A bacterial infection causing the host to ooze infected sap from wounds or apparently healthy bark. According to Strouts and Winter 2, bacterial wetwood is “common yet rarely results in overt disease”.

Inonotus hispidus on an ivy-clad ash.

Inonotus hispidus - Another polypore-producer that is parasitic on broad-leaves, particularly ash (Fraxinus excelsior). We saw several dead brackets on an ivy-covered ash growing by a stream.

Fomes fomentarius on silver birch.

Hoof fungus or tinder bracket (Fomes fomentarius) – Like you’d expect, the brackets of this fungus look like hooves. It favours birch – its modus operandi is similar to that of razor strop. We saw several of these brackets on the waterlogged birches.

1 Jordan, M. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe. Frances Lincoln.
2 Strouts, R. G. and Winter, T. G. (2000). Diagnosis of ill-health in trees. The Stationary Office.
3 Johnson, O. and More, D. (2006). Collins Tree Guide. HarperCollins Publishers.

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Call for Submissions: Festival 44 Returns to the treeblog. Submit!

Posted in Pests and diseases

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