37 posts tagged with

Ewden Valley

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A beech at the height of its powers

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 in Gone for a walk

Summer in March: A walk on the moors

A couple of days ago I returned home from half a week on Mull & Iona, where I saw an enormous fossil tree… but that’s another post! The weather up there was for the most part dull and drizzly, and in Sheffield today it put down a few inches of late snow. Yet before I went away we had some incredible weather at home. It was like high summer, but in March…

Holt House, an abandoned farm on the other side of the Ewden valley, stands close to some quite old and fairly gnarly trees. In the foreground, Rhododendron ponticum is colonising the moorland – it has already claimed the valley side down to the river. It would be the mother of all nightmares to eradicate at this stage, and it gets worse every year.

Park Cote, the walled area, is on the same side of the valley as Holt House. With another abandoned building or two (they draw me in!), it’s been on my list of Places To Visit for a while now.

A typical Oaken Clough scene: a lovely, big, lichen-encrusted birch, plus rowan, more birch, bracken, moss, holly, heather, lichen-encrusted rocks, a wee burn… it’s paradise.


A rowan in its prime leans out over Ewden Beck high up the valley. The river was very low; much of the riverbed was exposed and dry. This section is bare bedrock.

A close-up of one of the exposed stumps you sometimes stumble upon out on the moors, usually in groughs: relics from a time long ago when the moor was not a moor but a wood. The peat preserves the timber really well.

A larch rose in the making! I love larch roses. They can’t fail to put a smile on your face.

Holt House again, surrounded by mature sycamores. Today it’s just a deteriorating shell, but when I win the lottery (once I’ve started playing the lottery) I’ll do it up and turn it into treeblog HQ. That’s the dream!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Around Broomhead Reservoir

A couple of weekends ago I was down at Broomhead Reservoir, taking advantage of the low water level (though it isn’t as low as the neighbouring More Hall Reservoir) to see if I could find any remains of Broomhead Mill. I couldn’t.

In the foreground is the old course of the Ewden Beck, the river that flows into the reservoir. Normally this section is submerged beneath the waters of Broomhead, but while the reservoir is low the old channel gets to remember what it was like to once have been a river.

This old stump and dry stone wall are also normally submerged in the reservoir. The wall runs along the edge of a tiny valley where Allas Lane Dike, a small stream, once ran down to join Ewden Beck.

At the reservoir’s high water mark, a bit of erosion has exposed the roots of two trees. On the left, a common alder (Alnus glutinosa); on the right, an oak (either pedunculate or sessile).

Looking across the reservoir to the northern shore. The water surface was very calm, but it wasn’t quite still enough to produce a perfect mirror image of the trees over there.

As I stood gazing admiringly across the water, I heard a splash and automatically went for the camera. A fish had surfaced and triggered a series of ever increasing circles.

In a bit of woodland next to the reservoir I spotted a couple of huge brackets on a dead birch stem just as the light was beginning to fail.

They were: Piptoporus betulinus - razor strop or birch polypore.

Something – a woodpecker, I presume – had drilled a hole in the rotten stem, and wee flakes of dead wood had rained down upon both brackets. Nature’s brilliant, eh?

Posted in Gone for a walk

Autumn colours

Posted in Miscellany

A glorious Indian Summer: aspens in Ewden!

Looking back at the Salter Hills.

These photos were taken in the midst of our fantastic autumn heatwave. To make the most of the perfect weather, I went for a walk up in the upper reaches of the Ewden Valley. I can’t believe a fortnight has passed already!

Looking across the valley to Park Cote, as it is marked on the map. ‘Cote’ is an old Middle English word meaning ‘small shed or shelter for livestock or birds’, or ‘small cottage’. There is clearly a ruined stone building there (see the bigger version of the photo), and I think I have spotted a second ruin hidden amongst the trees to the right of the former. I’ve never been over there but they are on my list of places to investigate.

A small pool on the tributary of Ewden Beck that flows down Oaken Clough. All the becks were in very low flow.

Walking up the side of Ewden Beck, you’ll eventually reach a section with steep cliffs to the right of the river all grown over with trees. When I suddenly caught sight of a lot fluttery, trembling leaves, I realised with some excitement that there is actually aspen (Populus tremula) growing in the valley! There were quite a few of them on the cliffs, mixed in with downy birches (Betula pubescens) and oaks. Aspen is a fascinating species; while it has a huge range across Europe and Asia, it’s not a common tree in Britain. Seed production rarely occurs here, the reasons for which are poorly understood. It can spread freely by vegetative reproduction, however, sending up suckers from roots that grow into trees that are clones of the parent (ramets). Self-perpetuating clonal colonies are thought to be capable of living 10,000 years or more (but I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t theoretically live far longer than that). Anyway, the aspen here in this tiny section of the Ewden Valley is perhaps a miniscule remnant population, clinging on in an area inaccessible to sheep, deer and axe-wielding humans, that has survived from the days (upwards of 2,000 years ago?) when this whole area was clothed by forest not moor. That just blows my mind.

A search on the internet for other aspens in the vicinity threw up a mention by Mickleden Beck (about 4 km away) – but a quick reccy there this arvo drew a blank. (Although I did find a massive veteran alder right beside a huge holly… but that’s another story!)

The best of the autumn aspen colours.

Looking toward’s Thorpe’s Brow in the late afternoon golden sunlight.

The lower Ewden Valley – less wild, but still beautiful.

Posted in Gone for a walk

In the Valley of the Beeches

XL European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

Somewhere in the Ewden Valley there is a special piece of woodland full of absolutely enormous beeches. (No, not Spout House Wood. These are bigger…) Beeches with massive-girthed trunks that seem to go up for miles. Beeches with almost ramrod straight stems. Beeches that even though of gargantuan stature are still in the prime of life. No grizzled dotards here; well, maybe a couple. Just beautiful, jaw-droppingly large trees.

I’m pretty confident this one is the biggest of the lot. I’m calling it the King of Ewden. I think that’s suitably grand. It’s a shame my photo really doesn’t do justice to this titan’s size – it’s a hundred times more impressive in the flesh. There is a car-sized wound on the other side of the trunk, seriously! I’m going to have to go back with a tape measure and take some DBHs as proof!

One of the smaller ones?

Another giant. How many are there? I’m not sure. Thirty? Forty?

Imagine climbing that! Imagine the view from the top!

I wish I had more photographs to share, but being under those monster canopies, in the bottom of a valley, late on an autumn afternoon… the light wasn’t great. I’ve got a mind to go back and carry out a more comprehensive study. These are trees worth getting excited about. If only the person / people who planted them could see them now!

Several Piptoporus betulinus (razor strop or birch polypore) fruiting bodies on a dead downy birch (Betula pubescens).

This big oak (probably Quercus robur) looked stunning as it caught the late afternoon sun. I love trees.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Autumn colours and Ogden’s Folly at More Hall Reservoir

For whatever reason, the level of water in More Hall Reservoir is currently very low indeed. Lower, even, than it was in January.

I walked all the way around the reservoir in January, on land normally submerged beneath the waters, hunting for a mysterious sign labelled “Ogden’s Folly” which had been the subject of a letter to the local newspaper.

I didn’t manage to find it in January, and a few weeks later the reservoir had filled up again. This week a commenter reminded me of the sign and I went down to have another look on Friday afternoon.

This time I found it! Ogden’s Folly. I suppose the story must go that a chap named Ogden was fishing at this spot, which is on the edge of a sudden, steep drop. The level of the water must have been such that the drop-off was obscured, and Ogden mistakenly assumed that the ground continued to slope gently. When he took a step forward he plunged into the reservoir, and some joker subsequently erected this little sign to immortalise the incident. And by coincidence, an hour later I found a nearby bench looking out over the reservoir that is dedicated to the memory of a Harry Ogden, Founder Member of the Morehall Fly Fishing Club. That’s some nice closure to my hunt.

One of many old stumps usually hidden beneath the waters - ghosts of trees that once lived a happy life by a charming brook.

The receded water level has encouraged lots of new plant growth. This little alder (Alnus glutinosa) was in the company of many alder, birch and willow seedlings and saplings. Any idea what these daisy-like flowers are?

A willow, one a of a pair that grow in the edge of the reservoir.

This is the other. As you can tell by the tide mark on the trunk, these willows are submerged by two or three feet when the reservoir is at capacity.

Stumps and desolation. It’s hard to imagine that before the reservoir was built this section of the river would have been a rural beauty.

The vibrant autumn colours were striking. I wonder if the angler had any success?

Posted in Gone for a walk

Idyllic rurality in the lower Ewden Valley

Not yet in the Ewden Valley – this is my favourite hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).

One hell of a bull at Hunger Hill.

Leaving Heads Lane, I walked through an old farm and started down to the bottom of the valley…

The pleasant, pastoral view back across the valley from the other side (near Snell House).

Lamb’s eye view?

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

More Hall Reservoir is looking empty again. It was about this empty at the start of the year, before briefly filling up in spring.

I passed this imposing and impressive ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Wantley Dragon Wood. The tree would have been twice as big in its heyday when its stem forked into two equal stems a couple of metres off the ground, but one of them has been removed. The size of the trunk at ground level was incredible! It must be one of the largest ash trees in the local area.

Nearby a dragon slithers into a grassy clearing. According to the information board (sited close enough to ruin any photo from this angle) it was created by wood carver Mark Bell and dry stone waller John Alston, with the head made of elm. The sculpture represents the eponymous monster of the ancient satirical ballad The Dragon of Wantley, first published anonymously in 1685. The dragon lived across the Don valley in a cave on Wharncliffe Crags and devoured children, cattle, buildings and trees. The locals called upon More of More Hall to rid them of the dragon. After donning a special suit of Sheffield armour bristling with six-inch spikes, he hid in a well and kicked the dragon in the mouth as it went to drink, killing it. According to the information board, a “later version [published in 1765] included an explanation that it was based on a lawsuit against Sir Francis Wortley (the dragon) by other landowners, where the lawyer was More (the knight). It is difficult to know if this is true. Some of the elements could be a satire about a lawsuit; others are classic to dragon myths in this area. It is possible that this story is a combination of several tales.”

Finally, the approach to Bolsterstone from a footpath just uphill of Sunny Bank Road. Broomhead Park and Moor are seen in the background.

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This month the Festival of the Trees returns to Via Negativa for its fifth anniversary. Go read!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Forest forensics

You might not notice anything special about this scene at first glance, but something caught my eye as I drove past. I noticed that a branch had come down, although upon closer inspection that wasn’t everything…

Here’s how I think it happened:

This pine (not a Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris – its needles were too long) had fallen (blown?) over…

…and smashed into a roadside horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), breaking off half of the tree at a weak union between co-dominant stems with included bark. The resulting nasty wound can be seen in the top-right of the photo; the guilty pine is in the bottom-left.

The half of the chestnut that snapped out fell across the road and hit a tall wild cherry (Prunus avium), breaking a couple of high-up branches.

After hitting the horse chestnut, the pine tree carried on falling across the road. Here is the top section lying on the other side of the road; the middle section that would have blocked the road has been removed.

The pine struck a second horse chestnut on the far side of the road to the first, smashing through a few branches (the lowest in the photograph was probably substantial enough to have been called a co-dominant stem).

I took this photo sat atop the top section of the pine, looking across the road to the pine’s stump and the first chestnut that it damaged. The large wound where the chestnut used to fork can be seen maybe fifteen feet up the stem.

This carnage occurred sometime between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. Obviously somebody has been out to clear away the fallen branches and reopen the road, but no attempt has been made to clean up the wounds. The first of the horse chestnuts really wants felling because of the danger it poses to users of the road.

By coincidence, all of this happened just a few metres away from where I was photographing fungal fruiting bodies on a cherry tree on Sunday afternoon – the subject of the previous post in fact! According to its name-tag, that cherry tree was No. 0852. The trees in this post were tagged as 0855, 0856 and 0858 – the cherry, first chestnut mentioned and second chestnut mentioned respectively (I couldn’t see a tag on the pine). Isn’t that funny?

So just to recap how I pieced together the sequence of destruction, I’ve scribbled all over the first photo at the top of this post. The blue hoops ring the leaning pine stump (right of the road) and its detached, recumbent upper section (left of the road). As it fell it struck horse chestnut No. 0856 (red) and horse chestnut No. 0858 (orange). Half of chestnut 0856 was broken off and fell across the road, striking wild cherry No. 0855 (pink). The resulting wounds of 0855, 0856 and 0858 are all circled. Carnage!

Posted in Miscellany

Chicken of the woods?

About five weeks ago I was driving along the bottom of the Ewden Valley when I caught sight of a big bracket fungus growing eight or nine feet up the trunk of a wild cherry or gean (Prunus avium). I returned later in the week with my camera, but as the fungus was a few feet above my head and it was quite dark under the canopy of trees my photos didn’t turn out very good. I intended to come back with a step-ladder and take some better pictures but for whatever reason I didn’t get back again until yesterday. Over the last month the fungus has degraded somewhat. It’s sadly no longer the fresh specimen it was at the end of May. It has a not-unpleasant, cheesy sort of smell to it. The big brackets were more or less a foot wide.

A month ago the fungus was quite yellow (at least it was below, which was all I could see of it), and my first thought was that it was chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus). I still think this may be the case, but I’m not so sure. When am I ever sure? Maybe it’s something like Inonotus cuticularis? Listen - dear reader, if you are able to shed any light on this matter I would greatly appreciate it! (Just bear in mind that the fungus is past its best and is starting to look a bit ropey.)

This is the best of the photos I took when I first discovered the fungus five weeks ago.

This is the host tree: one very tall cherry. Its lower branches are dead, but it’s uppermost branches are still leafy. There is a big, old wound on the stem just below the fungus, and the fungus itself grows from an old wound. A shiny new tag identifies it as ‘0852’. 0852 isn’t a brill tree.

Is this weird? It’s a little weird, right?

Posted in Pests and diseases

Farewell, horse chestnut 32, thou sufferer of bleeding canker

Horse chestnut No. 32 on the first day of May.

Right at the very beginning of this year, by Broomhead Reservoir in Ewden Valley, I discovered a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) with several Daedaleopsis confragosa (blushing bracket / thin walled maze polypore) brackets poking from its trunk. The tree obviously wasn’t in good health; it had recently shed a large branch and much of the tree was dead. I realised that it was suffering from bleeding canker, the bacterial disease which has stormed Britain and now infects roughly half of all our horse chestnuts.

I went to check up on the tree again on the 1st of May and noticed that a number had been painted on it. A few other bleeding canker-infected horse chestnuts nearby had also been labelled. I guessed that these trees were going to be felled soon. Someone else had noticed that these chestnuts were infected!

Maze-like gills on the underside of one of the D. confragosa brackets.

A different type of fungus had appeared a little further around the trunk. I think these are Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms).

Here’s the wound where the largish branch had dropped off. I’ve noticed that while bleeding canker doesn’t have a noticeable impact on leaf growth – from a distance diseased trees look pretty normal – infected chestnuts are highly prone to losing whole limbs. The bleeding canker infection must seriously weaken the structure of the tree.

The most noticeable symptoms of bleeding canker are massive bark cracks on the trunk or major branches; these can lead to whole sections of bark breaking away from the tree. I suppose this is how the disease can eventually kill its host. Bleeding cankers like this one are (surprise, surprise) another symptom of… bleeding canker.

Anyway - despite its troubles, No. 32 was still putting on a brave face! It was just beginning to flower at the start of May.

* * * * *

I drove past at the weekend and noticed that the numbered trees had all been felled, so I returned with my camera on Tuesday (May 24th). There isn’t much left of No. 32. A section of the trunk has been left in situ, along with the stump, but there is no trace of the rest of the tree. Everything (branches, twigs, leaves, the lot) has been taken off-site – perhaps to be disposed of in accordance with whatever regulations apply regarding trees infected by bleeding canker.

The stump. It looks like there was some decay in the centre. Was the whole right-hand side of the tree dead? It’s hard to say from the stump.

The stump and the stem, with some of the D. congragosa brackets still attached.

The other end of the stem (top end). Decay is apparent in the bottom-right quarter.

Some of the D. confragosa brackets had broken off and were lying on the floor, where they have begun to go mouldy. I pulled the best remaining specimen off the trunk to take home as a keepsake.

Posted in Pests and diseases

A summery walk in spring (Part Two)

If you could be any leaf, which leaf would you be? A beech leaf wouldn’t be a bad choice.

This post continues from Part One.

Take a look up into the canopy of a big, old beech still thriving in Millstones Wood. There’s some kind of symmetry at work here, I think.

Not far away – but a very different atmosphere. High on the moors below Pike Lowe, ancient tree roots are exposed as areas of peat are eroded. What kinds of tree did they support? How long ago did they live? Were these desolate moors once covered in woodland? I wish I had a time machine.

Dropping down off the moors into the upper reaches of Ewden Valley I lingered for a while at Ewden Force. There was only a trickle falling over the edge by consequence of the long hot and dry spell we are currently enjoying. Compare this gentle side of Ewden Force with the one I saw in July 2009 when there was a real thundering cascade! (I walked more or less the same route on both of these visits.)

I loved these colours. The clear sky, the dead bracken, the new bracken growth, the stones, the bilberry…

These trees on the other side of the valley must grow within an enclosed area. If they didn’t, so many would never have made it to this size without being had by the sheep. It’s on my list of places to explore.

I just can’t get enough of beech-filtered sunlight, especially when a river is involved.

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May’s edition of the Festival of the Trees - the 59th - is hosted by Suzi of Spirit Whispers. Don’t keep it waiting, go read!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Spring is sprung

The weather did an amazing impression of summer this weekend. On Friday I went for a little walk to take in some of the spring greenery that has suddenly appeared. It took me past this picturesque hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) that grows in the field between Whitwell Moor and Hunger Hill.

These pictures of a neighbouring hawthorn show how far along they are in unfurling their new leaves.

What a tangle!

I’m looking forward to seeing all the hawthorns clothed with white flowers in a couple of months, but right now it’s great seeing them clothed in green again.

Hole in the bole.

Looking down into Ewden Valley from Heads Lane.

Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are beautiful at this time of year with their unblemished leaves illuminated by the sunlight.

The bluebells are out in Yew Trees Wood!

I saw these catkins on a male goat willow (Salix caprea) in Ewden Village. My friends’ new house has a female goat willow growing in the garden – it too was covered in catkins yesterday.

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April’s edition of the Festival of the Trees is hosted by Georgia of local ecologist. Go read!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Lambs’ tails & other signs of spring

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 in Gone for a walk

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a dead horse chestnut

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a dead horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum).

I’m sorry if you’re thinking “What? Another post about fungi on a horse chestnut?”, but that’s just how the dice are falling! This particular tree stands not too far from the horse chestnut in the last post, set back a little from the road that runs the length of More Hall Reservoir in the Ewden Valley. It is completely dead, and probably died a few years ago. I don’t think it was killed by bleeding canker, which probably didn’t reach these parts until after the tree had died anyway. Nowadays it’s a big chunk of standing deadwood happily rotting away under a host of hungry fungi, the most noticeable one being the oyster mushroom.

As you can see, the stem is home to a fair few clusters of them. I made a little post last year when I found some of the same on a knackered lime tree (Tilia sp.) on a street in Sheffield.

The oyster mushroom is common on dead trunks and branches of broadleaved species, also occurring rarely on conifers. It can be found throughout the year although it fruits mainly in summer and autumn. Young mushrooms are excellently edible.

This fungus was growing from the base of the tree. I think it’s Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers.

This was also at the base of the tree, tucked between two buttresses. It looks to me like another fungus, but I’ve no idea what species it is. I’ll have to keep a look out for any developments!

Posted in Pests and diseases

Velvet shank fungi (Flammulina velutipes) on a horse chestnut destroyed by bleeding canker

This post is all about the fungi growing on a horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) with bleeding canker in the Ewden valley. In a previous post all about different fungi growing on a horse chestnut tree with bleeding canker in the Ewden valley, I wrote “…a road running along the northern shore of More Hall Reservoir is lined predominantly by horse chestnut and cherry trees. Virtually every single horse chestnut on this mile-long stretch is in a … bad way, and I am quite sure that bleeding canker is the cause. I think I’ll have much to say on this in future posts!” Well, here’s a start.

First let me introduce you to the tree. It’s in catastrophically bad condition; it has a serious bleeding canker infection and, as apparent from this massive wound, half the tree has broken off sometime last year.

The remainder of the tree is covered in extensive bark cracks symptomatic of bleeding canker. I can’t imagine it being long before the large branch heading out to the right in this photograph breaks off. The orange fungi you can just about make out in this photo – growing on the trunk, the branch, and in the union between the branch and the remaining upright stem – are the focus of the rest of this post.

This photo (taken a month ago on the 8th of January) shows a cluster of mushrooms that sprout from the trunk at about breast height. Here they are at a juvenile stage looking real slimy.

A fortnight later (on the 21st of January) and they’ve turned a darker shade of orange. I’ve identified them – with 99% confidence – as Flammulina velutipes - the velvet stem, velvet foot or winter mushroom (or, according to MushroomExpert.Com, the “At Least Something’s Out In January” mushroom!) It is one of only a few mushrooms around at this time of year, but F. velutipes is “only likely to fruit during warm spells, so if there is snow covering the ground you’re not likely to find it.” True enough, we’ve had no snow since Christmas.

This photo taken with the zoom shows a massive crack on the aforementioned branch and a cheeky little cluster of F. velutipes growing from the exposed dead wood.

The cluster yesterday.

Flammulina velutipes - things you should be knowing: It’s edible and tasty. It can be frozen solid and still produce spores after thawing out. It’s a common species, fruiting from October to March. It’s a saprotroph, growing on the dead wood of broadleaf species – mainly horse chestnut and elms (Ulmus).

This tree deserves your pity.

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Next month’s FOTT will be hosted by Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods. Once again the theme is open and the deadline this month is the 27th. You’ll find the call for the submissions at the Festival of the Trees co-ordinating blog.

Posted in Pests and diseases

Daedaleopsis confragosa brackets revisited; the host tree probably has bleeding canker

In the last post I included several photos of bracket fungi on a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), which I tentatively IDed as Daedaleopsis confragosa, the thin walled maze polypore or blushing bracket. I am now sure that this is the correct species following a second visit to the tree on Friday afternoon.

My photographs in the last post showed only the upper surface of the brackets, an omission I am making up for with these pictures of the undersides with their maze-like pores.

I found an interesting snippet on a forum earlier: that D. confragosa’s elongated pores (and the random arrangement thereof) are something of an intermediary between circular pores and linear gills. Furthermore: “two years ago we found a collection, where immediately under the older fruitbodies young fruitbodies [had] emerged, so close that they [were] connected. The older fruitbodies had pores, the younger ones gills…”!

I paid more attention to the tree itself on this visit. It’s not in a good way. It has lost at least a couple of its main branches, and at least a couple more are dead or mostly so. Much of the bark is cracked and stained with oozes, symptoms of the nasty bleeding canker disease that may end up doing to British horse chestnuts what Dutch elm disease did to our elms in the 1970s. Regarding the subjects of my photos, D. confragosa grows on dead wood - in this case wood likely killed by bleeding canker.

Higher up the stem, about ten feet from the ground, a different species of fungus is growing on the bark around where two of the tree’s branches have broken off. The tree here is almost certainly dead, and more branches look liable to drop soon. So in summary: much of the tree has been killed by bleeding canker; secondary infections have taken hold in the dead wood; and the tree is starting to fall apart. Crikey.

This particular horse chestnut grows in very narrow strip of woodland on the southern shore of Broomhead Reservoir, separated by a lane from woodland to the south (mainly conifer plantation). A mile to the east, a road running along the northern shore of More Hall Reservoir is lined predominantly by horse chestnut and cherry trees. Virtually every single horse chestnut on this mile-long stretch is in a similarly bad way, and I am quite sure that bleeding canker is the cause. I think I’ll have much to say on this in future posts!

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I will be hosting next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees. Please send your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk before the 30th of January, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT within the header. ONLY ONE WEEK REMAINS BEFORE THE DEADLINE!

Posted in Pests and diseases

Bracket fungi on a horse chestnut: Daedaleopsis confragosa?

I was driving alongside Broomhead Reservoir on the third day of the new year when I spied from the corner of my little eye something beginning with B: brackets, and lots of them. I jumped out of the car and moved in for a closer look.

The tree? A horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) that clearly isn’t in rude health. It has recently shed a branch (both the scar and the detached limb are visible in the previous photograph). This may well be a consequence of the fungal infection afflicting the unfortunate tree, the visible symptoms of which consist of an impressive array of bracket fungi poking from the lower stem.

The fungi? Well I’m not certain, but I think the brackets may be the thin walled maze polypore a.k.a. the blushing bracket: Daedaleopsis confragosa. Am I right or am I wrong? If you can settle this matter for me please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or blast off an email!

Apparently D. confragosa is especially fond of willows - and these brackets look remarkably like the ones I saw on a willow at Worsbrough Reservoir at the beginning of September. Although at the time I came to a different conclusion…

”Small to medium-sized, kidney-shaped bracket, reddish brown with dirty pinkish white pores on the under-surface, annual; arranged singly or in tiers, on dead wood of broad-leaf trees, favouring willow, birch and beech.” – Jordan, M. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe. Frances Lincoln.

Occurs “throughout the year, but sporulating late summer to autumn; frequent.” – Jordan’s Fungi.

Beneath the diseased horse chestnut (as well as a few D. confragosa brackets that had dropped off), I spotted a few decomposing examples of a different type of fungus. Whether these grew around the base of the trunk or were fallen brackets I know not, nor whether they were goodies or baddies from the tree’s point of view. Maybe I’ll come back to this tree later in the year and see if more have grown.

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***** I will be hosting next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees. Please send your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk before the 30th of January, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT within the header. ONLY TEN DAYS UNTIL THE DEADLINE! *****

Posted in Pests and diseases

Trees from the past beneath More Hall Reservoir (Part Two)

This post continues from Part One.

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*** I will be hosting next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees. Please send your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk before the 30th of January, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT within the header. Thanks! ***

Posted in Gone for a walk

Trees from the past beneath More Hall Reservoir (Part One)

In the Ewden Valley at the turn of the twentieth century.

Once upon a time there was a pristine, wooded valley in the middle of England. Over time ancient humans cleared away most of the trees to create fields for their animals and crops. At the end of the 19th century the lower reaches of this Ewden Valley were covered with fields and not trees but it was still a beautiful and lovely place, from the top of the hills to the river flowing down in the bottom. Nearby was the city of Sheffield, growing rapidly as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. The industries and populace of Sheffield were thirsty for water, so the Corporation embarked upon an ambitious programme of dam-building in the valleys to the north. Two reservoirs were constructed in Ewden: Broomhead and More Hall. Work started on More Hall Reservoir in 1913, but the First World War caused delays. It was officially opened in 1929.

More Hall Reservoir, winter 2010/2011.
The middle of the reservoir is covered in a thick layer of ice.

The water level in More Hall Reservoir is very low at present, and has been since at least the autumn. I walked around the reservoir on Sunday on land that would normally be completely submerged. There wasn’t a lot to see: lots of mud, a few remnants of old dry stone walls, and a few dozen old tree stumps - trees that were felled almost one hundred years ago, before the reservoir was filled. These stumps have spent the best part of a century underwater and are fairly well preserved. In many places the stumps sit alongside the old stone walls or on the now-desolate banks of the old river, where the water still flows when the reservoir is low. It was quite a sad and eerie walk alone in the drizzle, slipping on the miserable mud and stones that normally lie well below the surface of the reservoir. I tried to imagine the trees that used to grow where today only ghostly stumps remain. I tried to imagine a beautiful alder leaning out over a babbling brook that wound its way merrily through grassy fields. But all I could see was a charred-looking stump jutting from the stony earth beside a dead river.

I didn’t mistake this stump for a lobstrosity, no sir.

This tree’s root still occupies the gap it drove between these two stones (part of a kerb? part of a wall?) over a century ago.

This stump had the remains of a couple of old mushrooms beneath it. A stump spends decades submerged, but no sooner is it left high and dry then the fungi move in!

To be fair, when it’s full up More Hall Reservoir is a nice place on a sunny day. And higher up the Ewden Valley the country gets as wild as one could wish for so close to Sheffield. I love it.

This post is continued in Part Two.

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I will be hosting next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees. Please send your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk before the 30th of January, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT within the header. Thanks!

Posted in Gone for a walk

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