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March 2011

The view from a suckering rowan in winter

Lichens are just amazing. This one was growing on a detached rowan branch. I’m pretty sure it’s a Xanthoria parietina - one of Britain’s commonest lichens.

This big rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) is interesting because it is surrounded by hundreds of stick-like suckers, many of them dead, that have been sent up from the roots. I’ve never seen a rowan behave like this before, and I wonder why this one should.

The tree had a decent girth for a rowan but it wasn’t particularly tall and looked easy to climb, so I jumped up it.

I couldn’t really have gotten much higher; there were only twigs above me.

On the way home I found this old puffball growing on the moor. It’s definitely a Lycoperdon species - probably L. perlatum, the pearl-studded puffball (I’ve seen these before). Jordan’s Fungi states that L. perlatum has “short pyramidal warts which fall off to reveal endoperidium decorated with a reticulate pattern” (according to the glossary ‘reticulate’ means ‘having a net-like pattern of ornamentation’). Much of the endoperidium does have a net-like pattern.

As an amusing aside, lyco is Greek for ‘wolf’ while perdon is Greek for ‘fart’ –Lycoperdons are literally wolf-fart fungi.

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This month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees is hosted by Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods. Go read!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Set A grey alders update (Feb/March 2011)

I recently made a couple of trips with my father to the four grey alders (Alnus incana) in treeblog’s Set A. We visited Nos. 2 & 3 four weeks ago on the 12th of February (Day 1417) and Nos. 1 & 4 yesterday, the 12th of March (Day 1445). (I last visited them in September.)

Grey alder No. 1 on a gloomy, overcast Saturday afternoon.

It’s buds aren’t yet showing any signs of opening.

Here’s the base of No. 1’s trunk with its herbivore-inflicted wounds. I’m very worried by the absence of callus wood around these. The tree had most of last summer to start sealing these wounds – Nos. 2 & 3 have made good progress, so why hasn’t No. 1?

At a different time and location, here’s grey alder No. 2.

Here’s an old wound and the associated callus wood.

Again no sign of flushing, but this photo is a month old now.

Just a stone’s throw away stands grey alder No. 3: the best of the alders at present.

More callus wood growing around the sheep damage to its stem. This is what No. 1’s stem should be looking like.

And lastly, grey alder No. 4 (close to No. 1). I feared this would happen - grey alder No. 4 is dead.

As you can see, the bark is easily detached from the stem.

I’m really sad that No. 4 has died. For a few years this tree was much bigger than the other three alders. I fully expected it to grow into a superb tree and was looking forward to seeing it reach maturity. What a shame its life has come to a premature end.

This was No. 4 in better days, back in August 2009.

I planted all four of these alders as seeds on the 28th of March 2007 (the seeds I collected myself a few weeks earlier). I planted Nos. 2 & 3 out in the wild on the 2nd of April 2010; Nos. 1 & 4 were planted out a fortnight later on the 14th. The fourth and first anniversaries respectively of these dates are approaching but grey alder No. 4 won’t be around to witness them, and that’s a real shame.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Sunset on Wind Hill

A young oak rises from a sea of bilberry.

Monday evening. The sun was setting as I discovered an ancient oak coppice in a field above Wind Hill Wood.

Here a ring of callus wood has grown around the base of a dead branch to try and seal the tree against infection.

How old is this oak? More than a couple of centuries?

On a nearby downy birch, where one half of a bough has been split off, I found an adventitious root growing into rotting wood.

Beyond the wood, the sun set over the moors.

Posted in Gone for a walk

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