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Posted on May 1, 2007 by Ash
Below is a photo of my tricotyledonous sycamore (taken by my father on Saturday), 23 days after I discovered it. Its first true leaves are now developing, and I am glad to see that there are three of them. As the tree develops, growth (branches, leaves and so on) will be trifurcate (in threes), as opposed to normal dichotomous (in twos) growth. Basically, this tricotyledonous sycamore is to a normal dicotyledonous sycamore what a four-leafed clover is to a normal three-leaved clover (Trifolium repens). I am interested to see whether or not its offspring will be tricotyledonous, although it's going to be quite a wait to find out.
Posted on May 2, 2007 by Ash
Close-up of a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) inflorescence.
Vivid gorse (Ulex europaeus) flowers. I know gorse isn't technically a tree, but it can grow fairly big, woody trunks!
Some species of elm of which I am not quite sure - probably wych elm (Ulmus glabra.
The bark of a close-by elm of the same species growing on a rocky substrate. Quite a big one; must have avoided Dutch elm disease.
Posted on May 3, 2007 by Ash
I recently recieved an email with the following photograph of an old beech (Fagus sylvatica) attached.
The sender, Tim Symonds, included the following information:
The beech in the attached photo is near Burwash, East Sussex. It displays clearly how the beech can drop its branches if need be. This one is in clay soil, on a steep-ish slope, about thirty metres above a tiny brook. The Woodland Trust guessed it must be between 200 and 250 years old. It is 220 inches in girth at 5 feet.
A girth of 18 feet 4 inches (559 cm) would give the beech a diameter of appox. 178 cm (5 feet 10 inches)! This is much larger than the Loch Tay 'Mother Beech' which had a girth of 377 cm (12 feet 4 inches) and thus a diameter of approx. 120 cm (3 feet 11 inches).
To live long, a tree must stay small.
Posted on May 5, 2007 by Ash
Wild cherry (a.k.a. gean) (Prunus avium) flowers in the garden.
Wild cherry blossom.
Gorse in flower, with Arthur's Seat in the background.
Posted on May 6, 2007 by Ash
Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) - flower and new leaves.
Young sycamore leaves backlit by the Sun.
Early elder (a.k.a. elderberry) (Sambucus nigra) inflorescence.
The young leaves of a small sycamore which was decapitated when a patch of gorse was cleared. The sycamore is a lot quicker off the mark in terms of recovery, by the look of things.
The gorse shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus). Tenuous tree link: feeds on gorse, which is almost a tree. A wannabe tree.
Posted on May 7, 2007 by Ash
It is Day 40. A whole forty days since Set A was planted. Almost 6 weeks. Seedlings have grown, but progress is disappointing. There are a fair few grey alder seedlings (I apologise for a lack of precise figures). Unfortunately, these do not appear to have made any progress in the week or so since the last update. Neither have the cider gum seedlings. In fact, the number of cider gum seedlings has apparently declined! This is a bit of a mystery; the seedlings are missing, and so presumably haven't just shrivelled up, and yet there is no sign of anything that may have eaten them. If they are being eaten, it must be a pest small enough to get through the wire mesh that protects them at night. And there is no sign of any slug or snail trails. And on the Scots pine front... well, there aren't any Scots pine seedlings (yet). Bah.
The grey alder tray. Lots of seedlings - a pity they are so small.
A grey alder seedling.
Cider gum seedlings. Where are they vanishing to?
A cider gum seedling.
No sign of any Scots pine here...
...or is there?
Posted on May 15, 2007 by Ash
Last Saturday I travelled back home from Edinburgh. The Capon Tree at Jedburgh is en route, so it was no trouble to stop and check it out again. The old veteran has made it though another winter and is now in full leaf. These photos just don't do justice to the Capon Tree's impressive size.
Posted on May 16, 2007 by Ash
Well, today is actually Day 49, but my photos are from Day 47 - Monday. So it is now seven weeks since Set A was planted. In the cider gum and grey alder trays, there are quite a few seedlings (roughly twenty in each), but these are still very small; somewhere in the order of a few millimetres to a centimetre or two. There is now a definite Scots pine seedling (and possibly a second), but this is also very small. Just about a centimetre. I predict that by this time next week, we should be seeing further Scots pine emergence and hopefully an increase in the size of the other seedlings. Compared with a sycamore seedling of similar age, the cider gums and surprises are tiny... but then again, sycamores do produce much larger seeds, and hence probably contain larger initial food reserves.
A typical grey alder seedling.
A typical cider gum seedling.
The Scots pine alpha seedling.
Posted on May 18, 2007 by Ash
On the Greek island of Kos, an ancient plane tree occupies Platanou Square in the capital, Kos Town. Located close to the harbour and the Castle of the Knights, it is under this plane tree that Hippocrates, oft regarded as the 'Father of Medicine', is according to legend said to have taught many of his students some 2400 years ago. Another legend tells of St Paul the Apostle standing beneath the plane tree, speaking to the inhabitants of Kos and spreading the word of Christianity. According to Wikipedia its crown has a diameter of about 12 metres, which is currently supported by a cage of green-painted metal.
Contrary to the legends, the current tree is almost certainly not as old as they require. Yet it is likely that this tree is a descendant of the original tree, or perhaps a new tree that grew from the still-living roots of the original tree once its above-ground parts had expired. Thomas Pakenham, in his Remarkable Trees of the World (2002, Weidenfield & Nicolson), writes:
For centuries people have believed that this is the tree under which the great healer sat when he taught medicine to his disciples in the 5th century BC. I would like nothing more than to share their faith. [...] But kill-joys will point out that the wood of the oriental plane tree, Platanus orientalis, rots relatively quickly. Today the main trunk is a hollow shell like an old gourd. True, there are large branches growing out of the cage from the east side of the gourd; and there is a new trunk, layered from a branch on the west side about a century ago, now forming a delightful dome of young branches. But I doubt whether the original tree, whose trunk is now a shell, is older than 600 or 700 years.
I have visited the Plane Tree of Hippocrates twice; in August 2004 and again in June 2006. I must confess to being disappointed upon first seeing it, after hearing rumours of this legendary, ancient tree. But after visiting it for a second time, I could imagine its true size, as if its hollow trunk was still solid and whole.
Posted on May 23, 2007 by Ash
Bad news: The cider gum and grey alder seedlings seem to be in arrested development. I think it might be worth trying a different sort of soil. Only two Scots pines have germinated.
The most advanced treeblog seedling yet (photographed yesterday).
The Scots pine seed tray. The alpha seedling is circled.
Posted on May 24, 2007 by Ash
I took the following photographs of the reproductive parts of the Scots pine yesterday near the little village of Bolsterstone. The accompanying information comes from Forestry Commission Booklet No. 15, Know Your Conifers, authored by Herbert L. Edlin, B.Sc. and published by HMSO in 1970.
Male flowers... consist of clusters of golden anthers, set some way back from the tips of the twigs; they shed clouds of pollen in May, and then wither.
A click beetle (Athous haemorrhoidalis) close to a male flower. Adult click beetles feed on pollen, nectar and flower and leaf tissues, but they do not feed exclusively on Scots pine.
The female flowers appear at the same time [as the male flowers], at the very tip of a newly expanded shoot; they are tiny, crimson tinted globes. After fertilisation they grow into brown structures no larger than a pea; they need two years for full ripening.
Two-year-old unripe cone.
Mature cones... which are always "one whorl back" from the tip of the shoot, owing to its continued growth, are at first green with tightly-shut scales. [...] Their symmetrical, "pointed-cone" shape helps the tree's identification; each scale bears a knob, but no points. In spring they turn brown and the scales open, to release the winged seeds... As in all pines, the seed is lightly held in a curved "claw" at the base of the wing.
A ripe, woody Scots pine cone, open for seed dispersal.
Posted on May 28, 2007 by Ash
The enemy in our midst. Rhododendron ponticum on heather moorland. The moorland appears to be under succession by birch woodland, although Rhododendron might end up taking over instead.
Photos taken on the 23rd of May 2007.
R. ponticum inflorescence.
Looking across fields towards the village of Bolsterstone between the branches of a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
Female beech (Fagus sylvatica) flowers - these will transform into beechnuts over the next few months.
The twisted and tortured-looking trunk of a stunted Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
A beech seedling with one pair of cotyledons and one pair of 'proper' leaves.
A nice bit of semi-natural mixed woodland. Lots of beech and Scots pine and plenty of oak off-camera. The low shrubs in the foreground are bilberry (Myrtillus vaccinium).
Posted on May 30, 2007 by Ash
Better news than the last treeblog seedling update! Even though only two have germinated so far, the Scots pines are powering along. Both seedlings are looking strong and healthy, and the beta seedling is doing a good job of catching up with the alpha.
The alpha seedling is on the left, the beta seedling is on the right (photographed yesterday (Day 62) - not to scale).
And after what seems like an eternity with no change in the germinated cider gum and grey alder seedlings, they now appear to be on the verge of a growth spurt. A few of both the cider gums and the alders are now developing their first pair of real leaves. The grey alders are also looking sturdier than they were last week.
Two typical cider gum seedlings.
Two typical grey alder seedlings. Are those red twiddly things on the left seedling new leaves?
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