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common hazel (Corylus avellana)
Posted on April 29, 2012 by Ash
They don’t come much better than this: an enormous beech (Fagus sylvatica) at the top of its game, yet net showing any sign of decline. It is one of a long row of mature beeches running mysteriously through the middle of Spout House Wood in the in delightful Ewden Valley. Who planted them, and when, and why?
In the bottom of the valley More Hall Reservoir is so full it’s overflowing. We’ve had a hell of a lot of rain recently, but the local reservoirs already filled in a short period in the autumn after spending most of last year half empty. It’s been so long since they’ve been properly full that it’s weird seeing them like this. I’d gotten used to seeing More Hall Reservoir as I photographed it in these posts from January and September 2011!
Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), an ancient woodland indicator species, in Morehall Reservoir Plantation. I confess I hadn’t a clue what it was until I looked it up. I need to work on my herb ident!
Much of the plantation was clear-felled at the end of 2010 but it has since been replanted. I had a look inside a fair few of the tree guards and they all contained baby hazels (Corylus avellana).
This is one herb I do know: wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), another indicator of ancient woodland.
Downy birch (Betula pubescens) catkins. The drooping yellowish catkins are made up of male flowers and will soon be dispensing pollen. The upright green catkins are made up of female flowers, and will dispense seeds later in the year when they too will be hanging downwards.
The view north across Ewden, taken with my back to Spout House Wood. The hand of spring has given the landscape a welcome boost of greenery.
Back to that sublime beech…
A mind-boggling number of branches!
Posted on February 26, 2011 by Ash
Lambs’ tails - the all-male catkins of hazel (Corylus avellana). I took the photographs in this post today in the rural Ewden Valley, but I saw hazels with their catkins already fully unfurled in the middle of January in Sheffield.
This is a female flower, which will hopefully grow into a hazelnut one day. Both male and female parts are found on the same individual, i.e. hazel is a monoecious species.
This hazel growing at Carr House Meadows (a nature reserve in the care of the Sheffield Wildlife Trust) was absolutely covered with golden catkins!
I only found out about the flowers of hazel a couple of years ago, but I now know them as a most welcome sign of approaching spring. How could I ever have missed them?
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) buds are almost ready to open...
…and these beech (Fagus sylvatica) buds have certainly grown in size, tiny cigars no longer.
What a display!
Hazel catkins have been out in force for a few weeks now and many of them are now past their best, turning brown and dry.
More of the female flowers. Is it just me or do they bear a slight resemblance to tiny cuttlefish?
Posted on March 26, 2010 by Ash
A twin-stemmed beech (Fagus sylvatica).
A proliferation of small fungal brackets on a dead Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). They look like turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) - or at least something in that genus - but my encyclopaedia of fungi says that T. versicolor is only found on broad-leaved species. Is that right? Can anyone set us straight in the comments?
The first wood on Whitwell Moor, home to the twin-stemmed beech and rotting Scots pine.
A weak sun shines through the peeling, papery bark of a young downy birch (Betula pubescens).
Goat willows (Salix caprea) are currently putting out their furry catkins. They are dioecious trees – individuals are either male or female – and both sexes produce catkins. At this early stage in their development, I’m not sure whether these catkins are ♀ or ♂.
Alder (Alnus glutinosa) catkins. The long ones in the centre of the photo are the males; these will extend and become golden in colour before they shed their pollen, at which point they will resemble male hazel catkins. The ruby-red, rugby ball-shaped immature female catkins (above the males in this photo) will develop into hard, woody, seed-bearing ‘cones’.
Here they are: the mature female catkins. The three in this photograph would have been at the same stage as those in the previous photo at this time last spring. The cones persist on the tree through winter, lending the leafless alder a distinctive silhouette.
A female hazel (Corylus avellana) flower peeking between two pairs of male catkins.
Just look at all those catkins! There’s even another female flower at the top of the photo! Hazels are amazing at this time of year.
How’s this for a spot of genius? An ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) seen above and below ground simultaneously!
Posted on March 23, 2010 by Ash
I went out for a wander on Sunday and was slightly disappointed to see such little springly progress from the buds on the locally-growing deciduous trees.
Hazel (Corylus avellana) buds and catkins. The catkins – some folks know them as lambs’ tails – are made up of male flowers. A female flower is hiding in the upper-centre of this photo.
Birch (probably downy birch, Betula pubescens).
English oak (Quercus robur). I’ve noticed that the terminal buds are often flanked by a pair of smaller buds, although the terminal bud in this photo has lost one of its two buddies. (It’s the Lonely Oak!)
Larch (probably European larch, Larix decidua) pegs and a ‘bud’ of some sort – maybe a flower very early on in development? I was very disappointed to find that there were no larch roses on this tree at all; this time last year they were out in force!
Goat willow (Salix caprea). On some of the trees catkins were already forming! I noticed that the buds on the trees with catkins were a light green while the trees without catkins had reddish buds (as in the above photo). Is this a way to tell the male trees from the female trees?
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa). Distinctively purply-velvety buds.
Hawthorn (probably the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna).
Here’s a wee hawthorn story: I was at college today, being taught how to use Tirfor winches in the context of stump removal. It is an agricultural college, and someone in the equestrian section pointlessly wanted a small section of hawthorn hedge, about five metres long, removing from a little patch of grass next to the stables. It was the remnant of a hedgerow that was mostly destroyed when the stables were built – a hedgerow probably laid down hundreds of years ago. Our instructor, an arboricultural legend (who shares my view that it is a great shame to get rid of something planted so long ago), reckoned it probably dated from the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from medieval times; possibly, if it was Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), it may have dated from as far back as the tenth century! The roots were certainly grand old things.
European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The buds are easily identified with their long and pointy ways. ‘Cigar-shaped’, some say.
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Unassuming, eh?
And of the buds of other locally-growing tree species that I saw up close but are MIA from this post… Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) buds showed no signs of opening yet, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) buds were green and swelling, and elder (Sambucus nigra) – I saw a couple of elders with closed buds but one growing on a south-facing slope was covered in tiny green leaves, yippee!
Posted on February 18, 2010 by Ash
Male catkins on hazel (Corylus avellana).
Winter’s grip on the countryside is finally loosening! The weather may still be nasty, but the days are getting longer and the local alders and hazels have been blasting out their male catkins. The hazels in particular look rather spiffing, their pale yellow lambs’ tails creating welcome splashes of colour in an otherwise bleak treescape.
More male hazel catkins, or lambs’ tails. These photos were taken beside Broomhead Reservoir on Tuesday.
This year’s developing male catkins (cigar-shaped) and last year’s woody female catkins (egg-shaped) on an overhead alder (Alnus glutinosa) branch.
And now for a brief update on the treeblog trees, neglected on this blog for far too long. Sad face.
The two Scots pines look fine. The four grey alders are covered in buds; the top of grey alder No. 4 is dead, as suspected in September. Most of the cider gums look alright, although a few of them have picked up a bit of a lean. Cider gums Nos. 1 and 15 look like they have suffered some serious frost damage. Will they survive? No. 15 took a lot of frost damage last year and survived… The post-Set A goat willow (the seedling formerly known as PSAUS) has some nice big buds.
Most of the downy birches have just started opening their tiny little buds. A few of them may have died, and some of them look to have had their roots exposed over the winter, so some replanting may be in order this weekend.
Set C’s downy birch No. 2 on Tuesday (16th February – 342 days after planting), standing a fine one-inch tall.
None of the sweet chestnuts or beechnuts, planted in the autumn, have sprouted yet. I’m aiming to plant my rowan seeds, the other component of Set D, in March. They are currently undergoing pretreatment.
P.S. It was treeblog’s third anniversary on Sunday!
Posted on October 21, 2009 by Ash
Hazel (Corylus avellana).
Photos taken on the 26th of September (Part One here).
Rose-bay willow-herb (Epilobium angustifolium) in a small area of clear-fell.
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).
Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Psst. Wanna see a photo of the same holly in February?
Three brothers. On the left: a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). In the middle: a fairly recently deceased beech (Fagus sylvatica). On the right: a longer-dead tree, probably a beech also.
Posted on August 30, 2009 by Ash
Three weeks ago yesterday I was travelling back from a week’s stay in the Highlands. Seeing as the road passed so close to Aira Force near Penrith, a detour was made. I discovered Aira Force completely by chance with a load of my eco-mates in May 2008 when we day-tripped out of Center Parcs. It was an awesome little trip that made a lasting impression on me, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. There are a number of highlights to a visit to Aira Falls: there’s the money tree, there’s the actual waterfall, there’s the beautiful bit of river above the fall, there’s the whopping huge Sitka spruce, and there’s the general ambiance of the place… All this can be taken in and enjoyed in a couple of hours, but if the weather is tozzing I’d be more than happy to spend a whole day there.
And there it is! The famous Aira Force Money Tree! It is a tree wrapped in coins inside an enigma. How did it begin? Who hammered in the first coins? Who remembers to bring a hammer and coins along? How long did it take to completely cover the tree in coins, and how long since it was covered?
Coins galore, all bent by hammering. 1ps, 2ps, and a few 5ps.
A-ha! A bracket fungus growing (on alder? on hazel?) down by the beck. Q: What flavour are you? A: I think I’m a Laetiporus sulphurous - chicken of the woods, sulphur polypore. But I’m not sure. Can you help us, dear reader?
A quadruple hazelnut cluster (Corylus avellana).
A-ha! Another bracket fungus, definitely growing on an alder this time (Alnus glutinosa)! Q: What flavour are you? A: I think I’m a Ganoderma, perhaps G. applanatum - artist’s conk - but I’m not sure. These days I am old and blackened, but have a look at me as I was last year:
The same bracket on the 14th of May 2008. Again, dear reader – can you help ID?
Aira Force itself: an impressive 20 m / 65 ft drop (force, from the old Norse fors or foss, meaning waterfall.)
Downstream of the fall, Aira Beck flows through a gorge. Some of the oaks growing on the steep slope above the water were festooned with epiphytes. This photo shows a section of trunk about thirty feet up covered with mosses and ferns. I’ve seen trees dripping with lichens, but I can’t remember seeing British trees covered in ferns to this height. Remarkable.
This gargantuan Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) grows with one tree-sized limb hanging right out into space over the gorge. I have yet to see the ridonculous dimensions of this tree done justice to by a camera. Even with a bloke stood at the base, you cannot appreciate the scale of this thing the way you can when you’re actually stood gawping at it. The spruce is apparently part of an arboretum planted by the Howard family of Greystoke Castle in 1846. Well big.
And if you’re in the mood, how about a bonus poem by William Wordsworth?
Posted on March 25, 2009 by Ash
Male catkins swinging from a common alder (Alnus glutinosa) at Owler Carrs.
Yes, Friday and Saturday were real stunners. It seemed as though summer was already upon us, even though the trees were still bare. Signs of spring were all about. Catkins still dangled from alders in droves, although most hazel catkins are now past their best; and immature catkins – probably male - were protruding stiffly from the ends of birch twigs. Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are on the verge of flushing, and I saw evidence that rowans and birches are to soon follow suit. A single larch was already sprouting bright green needles; other larches, while not yet flushing, bristled with small but beautiful flowers.
Two pines at the bottom of a hill. I’ve seen old maps from 1893, 1903, and 1905 that show this patch was then within the bounds of a coniferous wood. A map from 1855 shows the wood not yet in existence, and a “revision of 1929 with additions in 1938 & 1948” map shows the wood to have been much reduced in size. The wood survives today in a further reduced state, mainly to the left of this shot…
...here: a very open wood consisting primarily of stunted pines and larches. I wonder if the wood was planted as a means of sheltering Whitwell Moor, lying to the north, which in those days was grouse shooting territory.
A cluster of willowy trees growing around a spring. Are they willows? Dunno. I currently have little confidence identifying willows, but I want to change that. For the present… are these developing goat willow (a.k.a. pussy willow a.k.a. sallow - Salix caprea) catkins? Any help in the comments would be greatly appreciated!
More male common alder catkins. On the twigs just above where the male catkins are attached, immature, dark purpley-brown female ‘cones’ (technically catkins) are developing. My apologies for their being out of focus in this photo.
An unfurling rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) leaf. It’ll be up and photosynthesising in no time at all, sir.
Here are a couple of past-their-best, dead-looking male hazel (Corylus avellana) catkins. It feels as if treeblog has gone a bit crazy on the alder and hazel catkins lately. That’s a good thing.
So, you’ve seen the male parts of a hazel. In the interests of balance, how about a peek at the female parts? I’ve noticed that there are barely any of these female flowers on each plant, and I’ve read that hazel’s fertility in many parts of Britain is already compromised by grey squirrels eating the hazelnuts that these flowers develop into. It’s a wonder there are any new hazels growing at all.
Aaaah, larch flowers (probably European larch, Larix decidua). The above photo shows a bird’s nest-like male flower (left) and a beautiful, rose-like female flower (right). On the subject of L. decidua flowers, Forestry Commission Booklet No. 15, Know Your Conifers, by Herbert L. Edlin (published by HMSO in 1970) has this to say:
The male flowers, borne in spring just as the delicate needles open, are clusters of golden anthers. The female flowers, often called “larch roses”, are pretty flower-like clusters of scales, and may be green, white, or deep pink in colour. They ripen within one year to rather cylindrical cones. These cones only slowly expand their scales, and when the forester wishes to extract larch seed he has to break them apart.
And back to where it all began. The two pines from this post’s second photo join the background of this late afternoon sun-bathed pine scene.
This post lives on in March 31st's Goat willow and larch roses: a reprise.
Set C update – Day 14 (today): No sign of germination yet.
Posted on March 17, 2009 by Ash
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa) male catkins, perhaps slightly past their best which may be why they are more red than yellow.
Yesterday was a lovely warm day, perhaps even lovelier and warmer than the day before yesterday which, certain newspapers yesterday reported, was the warmest day of the year so far. To make the most of it, I went on an adventure down Ewden. As luck would have it, I was successful in my ongoing quest for photos of alder catkins. Hooray!
A closer look at a pair of alder catkins. Now hold that image, because I want you to compare them with the hazel catkins below…
Hazel (Corylus avellana) male catkins. Much prettier than the alder catkins, if you don’t mind my saying so.
More hazel catkins, but these ones aren’t fully ripe. The bottoms of the catkins haven’t opened up yet.
These unfurling hazel leaves were down in the valley bottom next to Broomhead Reservoir. It must be milder down there than higher up the hillside, where hazel leaf-unfurlage hasn’t yet begun.
Two kinds of alder, going head-to-head in a bud-off. On the left… the top of treeblog’s very own grey alder No. 4 from Set A; on the right… the end of a common alder (A. glutinosa) twig of Ewden provenance. Common alder, with its glamorous purple buds, is a British native. The grey alder (Alnus incana) is not.
Oh-ho! While the buds at the top of grey alder No. 4 aren’t showing any signs of bursting just yet, buds lower down are opening to reveal their infant leaves! (The twig below the bud may look sticky in this photo but it’s only water – I’d just given the trees a soaking with the watering can.)
And this is the post-Set A unknown seedling. It too is getting in on the spring action. See how it mobilizes that upper bud!
Other signs of spring sighted include hawthorns flushing, lambs, frogs, and bulbs sprouting up from the woodland floor.
Posted on March 7, 2009 by Ash
Male hazel catkins.
Travelling through Sheffield and Hillsborough on the bus this afternoon, I noticed that
Wintery common alder male catkins.
But then – aha! Right by the beck, a young alder with a fair smattering of the yellow spring-form catkins. Not as tree-coveringly many as I saw in Hillsborough and Sheffield, but still plenty. Camera out, close-up shots ahoy. In the bag.
Fast-forward several hours, and here I am uploading the day’s photos onto the computer. Before writing a post around the catkins, I thought it would be good form to see if I could find out what those red spikes were all about. A flower? A gall? A few googles couldn’t shed any light on the matter, but then I had an brainflash. What if that weird bud wasn’t on an alder, but was on a hazel. They both have long yellow catkins in spring…
A cluster of male hazel catkins.
A closer look at the top of the catkins, revealing the golden, pollen-carrying anthers.
What a waffly post! The quick version: man sees catkin-laden (Italian) alders in town; goes on walk to get photos of (common) alders; thinks yellow-catkined trees are young alders; transpires they were actually hazels. Thank the Man-Jesus for those little red spikes. New tree knowledge: what alder and hazel buds look like, and what female hazel flowers look like. Other signs of spring seen: elders (Sambucus nigra) have begun flushing.
Posted on February 3, 2008 by Ash
Everyone is familiar with the term 'nutter', but I bet not many people know how the word originates. The book Sheffield's Woodland Heritage by Mel Jones explains (the context is woodland management from the Middle Ages to the 1800s):
There were particularly sensitive times of the year in the woods. In autumn when berries and nuts were ripe, and in winter, when firewood and food supplies were low, thefts were particularly common. The practice of collecting hazel nuts in local woods caused widespread damage to wood boundaries and the underwood and prompted the Pegges of Beauchief in 1809 and the Duke of Norfolk in 1812 to post warning notices around their estate and woodland boundaries.
The text below is included as a figure, labelled as 'Warning to hazel nut gatherers, Beauchief estate, 1809.'
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