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September 2010

A walk around Worsbrough Reservoir (5th September 2010)

I walked with my family around Wosbrough Reservoir yesterday for my Grandad’s seventy-first birthday. The boggy area at the western end has plenty of trees including some huge willows, but much of it is overrun with Himalayan balsam.

These brackets were growing from a willow. I think they could be something like Lenzites betulinus, but I’m really not sure. I should have had a look at their undersides and checked on the gill situation.

One of the big old willows – probably a white willow (Salix alba) but maybe a crack willow (Salix fragilis).

This woolly delight was growing from a massive old wound on a sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). I’m 95% certain that it’s a Volvariella bombycina. Jordan’s Fungi describes it as occurring “solitary or in small tufts, on rotted wood including fissures and knot holes of sickly or dead broad-leaf trees”. It can be seen in summer and autumn but is rare; it has a “strong, pleasantly fungoid” odour!

From a distance it looked like a large egg was lodged in the tree.

Posted in Gone for a walk

treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 479): the Whitwell Moor rowans

’Whitwell Moor’ rowan No. 1.

I’m afraid it’s been almost four months since the Set C(r) rowans were last seen on treeblog, which is too long an absence for these fantastic seedlings. The speed with which the Whitwell Moor (W) rowans have grown since I planted them out in individual pots on the 26th of June is really quite amazing.

I took the majority of these photos a couple of Fridays ago on the 3rd of September – Day 479 – but three of the photos turned out blurry so I retook them yesterday – Day 486. Rowan No. 16 unfortunately disappeared within a few weeks of being planted out, so only nineteen WM rowans now remain in Set C(r).

W rowans Nos. 2 and 3.

W rowans Nos. 4 and 5.

W rowans Nos. 6 and 7.

W rowans Nos. 8 and 9.

W rowans Nos. 10 and 11.

W rowans Nos. 12 and 13.

W rowans Nos. 14 and 15.

W rowans Nos. 17 and 18.

W rowans Nos. 19 and 20.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 479): the Upper Midhope rowans

’Upper Midhope’ rowans Nos. 1 to 4.

As I said in the last post, I planted the Set C(r) Whitwell Moor rowans in individual pots at the end of June. Unfortunately I never got around to planting their peers, the Set C(r) Upper Midhope rowans, until the 30th of August – two months later. This means that the Whitwell Moor (W) rowans have a massive advantage over their Upper Midhope (U) buddies. I mean, there’s a big difference in size. But while this sucks for the U rowans, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they catch up to the W rowans.

Photos taken on the 3rd of September – Day 479. The last treeblog update for the Set C(r) rowans was back in mid-May: Day 369.

U rowans Nos. 5 to 8.

U rowans Nos. 9 to 12.

U rowans Nos. 13 to 16.

U rowans Nos. 17 to 20.

Posted in The treeblog trees

A handful of field trip iPhone photos

The quality of these photos is poor because they were taken on my mobile (I didn’t have my camera with me). Yesterday my arboriculture class went on a couple of wee field trips to see some gymnosperms and today we went on another to see some angiosperms. It was awesome to be out in the woods with some seriously big trees. I saw the largest Norway maples (Acer platanoides) I’ve ever seen today at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Moorlands Nature Reserve - super-tall, super-straight big stems - and yesterday we saw a magnificent Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) by the roadside near Askham Bryan.

Yesterday we visited the Forestry Commission’s Wheldrake Woods where they have plenty of conifers growing, including trials of grand fir (Abies grandis). The woods were full of fungi, including loads of these striking fly agarics (Amanita muscaria).

We also called in to see how our Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) plantation, that we planted at Escrick Park Estate in December, was getting on. Unfortunately it appears a fairly high proportion of the seedlings have died, but our forestry guru was unperturbed. Still, it looks like the beating up is going to be pretty heavy going, particularly with the resurgent bracken coverage.

These brackets – which I’m fairly certain are chicken o’ the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) – were growing from a big old Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) stump at Moorlands NR. I don’t recommend touching them: they are grossly slimy.

Another gnarly bracket (actually much yellower than my phone depicts)…

…and the stump itself.

This gigantic European beech (Fagus sylvatica) was breath-takingly huge. Unfortunately it has been savaged by artist’s conk (Ganoderma applanatum) – you can see a few of the big brackets - and so the upper part of the tree has been completely removed for the safety of the reserve’s visitors – what you see in this photo is pretty much all that remains. The stem has been left upright to provide ‘standing deadwood’, and the timber from the crown has been left on the ground to rot away too.

Moorlands has some fantastic trees, but there are a hell of a lot of rhododendrons around. Apparently the lady volunteer who has managed the woodland for the past twenty-odd years is a big fan of them. How the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust can reconcile this with the fundamental concept of a nature reserve is beyond me. Rhododendrons are among the last things you should want in a nature reserve!

Posted in Holidays and field trips

Set A grey alders update (Day 1277)

I went to check on the progress of the Set A grey alders yesterday with my father. Five months have passed since we planted them out in the wild and three and a half years have gone by since I planted them as seeds in my back garden in March 2007. How they have grown (time flies).

Here’s grey alder No. 1 looking grand yesterday. Compare this with how it looked three months ago in the photo below (taken from the last update).

Grey alder No. 1 on the 20th of June (Day 1180).

Since then No. 1 has grown taller and leafier. It was (very roughly) 2.4 m tall at the end of June but yesterday it measured approximately 2.8 m. In June its main stem had a basal circumference (C1) of 9 cm and a circumference at breast height (C2) of 4 cm; yesterday it measured 9.5 cm at C1 and 5 cm at C2.

Unfortunately the lower part of No. 1’s stem has been heavily damaged by browsing sheep. The damage is pretty nasty and the tree doesn’t seem to be making any headway in sealing the wounds.

On my last visit in June, No. 1’s main stem had started to fork near the top, so I pruned off one of the co-dominant stems to force the tree into staying as a single-stemmer. Here’s the tiny pruning wound and the nice, straight stem three months on. Success!

Here’s alder No. 2 yesterday…

…and on the 20th of June.

Quite a difference, eh? It had barely any leaves back in June and the tip of its leader had just died. Then it was only about 1.8 m tall; yesterday we measured it as approx. 2.5 m – quite an improvement. On the 20th of June it measured up as C1 = 9 cm, C2 = 2 cm; it now has C1 = 11 cm, C2 = 4.5 cm.

Grey alder No. 3 yesterday.

No. 3 on the 20th of June.

This one has also markedly improved. Three months ago No. 3 was a scraggly mess but today it is a fine specimen of a sapling. I’d say it is now the best of the bunch. In June it was roughly 2.1–2.4 m tall; yesterday it stood at approx. 2.8 m. June’s stem measurements were C1 = 9.5 cm, C2 = 4 cm; yesterday’s were C1 = 11.5 cm, C2 = 5.5 cm.

The horrible gnawing damage inflicted on the lower stem is ‘healing’ nicely, although it doesn’t look pretty. The growth of the fourth wall of CODIT* - the new growth that grows around the wounds and will eventually seal them – is quite pronounced, something worryingly absent from alder No. 1’s stem damage.

CODIT stands for Compartmentalisation of Decay in Trees, a theory developed by the late, great Alex Shigo to explain how trees react to injury by compartmentalising areas of infection. It’s a fascinating subject, but it’d be one hell of a digression!

Looking up at the top of No. 3.

Grey alder No. 4 yesterday: all that remains is a battered stick without even a single leaf. Once the greatest of all the treeblog trees, it has been eaten almost to nothing by sheep. What a fall from grace!

Even back in June it had taken a complete battering and was already leafless, as this photo attests. Thank-you, sheep. Then it was approx. 1.8 m tall, but today it has been cut down to just 1.35 m.

But even in this pathetic state, No. 4’s stem is still green. It is still alive. There may still be a chance. On my next visit - maybe a couple of months away? - I’m going to dig it up and move it somewhere, perhaps to a ledge on a cliff face away from the sheep. There may still be some hope. I hope.

* * * * *

In other news, I repotted the two Set A Scots pines this afternoon.

Posted in The treeblog trees

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