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Pseudotsuga - the Douglas firs
Posted on February 28, 2012 by Ash
A fantastic avenue of lime trees running towards Blair Castle from the front gates.
The day after I walked around the Hermitage at Dunkeld I climbed Cairn Gorm - my sixth Munro - on a beautifully clear but cold day, and the day after that I set off on the long drive home. My great Scottish excursion had just about come to an end, but I still had something left to look forward to in Blair Atholl.
Many of the trees in the grove are numbered. On the left in this photo: No. 47 – a grand fir (Abies grandis), which was 62.7 metres tall with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of 180 cm when climbed by a team of arborists in February 2009, making it one of the tallest trees in Britain. Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland by Owen Johnson (The Tree Register Handbook – published 2011) gives the grand fir national champion for height as a tree at Ardkinglas, Argyll, which measured 64.3 m tall with a dbh of 210 cm in 2010 (it was planted in 1875).
Unfortunately a storm in March 2010 blew the top out of the grand fir. I think it still has a far more impressive trunk than the Douglas fir it now has to look up to.
The statue of Diana, Roman goddess of hunting. A small plaque on the plinth states that the original statue by John Cheere was erected by the second Duke of Atholl in 1737. It was replaced (by the seventh Duke) in 1893 after the ‘Great Storm’; the replacement was restored in 1997.
Champion Trees lists a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) growing in Diana’s Grove, on a mound of earth called Mount Strange, as the national champion of its species for height; it was 54.5 m tall with a dbh of 151 cm in 2007. (A few days earlier in my trip I’d visited Britain’s widest conifer, another giant sequoia at Cluny House Gardens near Aberfeldy - Champion Trees lists that one as being just 41 m tall but having a massive dbh of 360 cm!) I did see the Mount Strange sequoia but I didn’t take a decent photo so you’ll have to make do with the mushroom.
This is the national champion Japanese larch for height. According to Champion Trees it was planted in 1886, and in 2007 was measured at 44 m tall with a dbh of 97 cm. There is, however, a Japanese larch with a greater girth at Barton House, Warwickshire – that tree is listed as having a dbh of 115 cm in 2007.
This excellent noble fir (Abies procera) was growing in the castle grounds outside of Diana’s grove. It’s neither the tallest nor the broadest of its species, but it is nevertheless an imposing beast.
Fungi growing from the base of one the limes on the grand avenue.
In my last post I wrote that the tallest tree in Britain was the Stronardron Douglas fir near Dunans Castle, Argyll, which was measured by a team of tree surgeons in February 2009 and found to be 63.79 m tall. You may however have noticed that in this post I have mentioned a 64.3 metre tall grand fir at Ardkinglas, Argyll, but this tree was measured more recently, in 2010. Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland was only published last year, and it is a definitive guide (and well worth investing in). I give it the last word:
The Ardkinglas grand fir grows in a fairly exposed spot beside Loch Fyne and, since 1991, has died back twice but regrown vigorously. In April 2010, it was climbed by a team of tree surgeons led by Iain Campbell Duncan and found to be 64.3 m tall. Its closest rival was a Douglas fir at Stronardron, Argyll, which was climbed in 2009 and was 63.8 m tall (and growing steadily); a Douglas fir of identical height at Lake Vyrnwy, Powys, split and was felled in 2011. Heights of 64 m have been claimed for ‘Dughal Mor’, a Douglas fir in Reelig Glen Wood near Inverness, Highland, but it is probably nearer 62 m. Another Douglas fir at the Hermitage, Dunkeld, Perthshire, grows on the steep bank of the Braan burn and is 65 m from its tip to the lowest exposed roots, but only 61.3 m to the ground on the top side when climbed in 2009.
…And that, I promise, was the last post from my November trip!
Posted on February 16, 2012 by Ash
A feisty River Braan flowing through the Hermitage.
More from my Scotland trip in November! The day after my tarriance in the Caledonian pinewood at Glenmore, I drove south to Dunkeld and met up with a good friend from university who I’d not seen in almost a year. Things worked out well because I wanted to visit the Hermitage to see one of Britain’s tallest trees, and he used to work in Dunkeld and was familiar with the area.
Just before the supertall tree I wished to see was this fine Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), itself an impressive enough sight with its towering, ramrod-straight stem.
The tree I came to see – the supertall tree – is the one on the right. In February 2009, a team of arborists from Sparsholt College in Hampshire were tasked with making official measurements for the Tree Register, who pointed them at four candidates for Britain’s tallest tree. The tallest was the Stronardron Douglas fir near Dunans Castle, Argyll, which measured 63.79 m (209 ft). Second place went to the grand fir in Diana’s Grove at Blair Castle, Blair Atholl (62.70 m) – which I visited at the end of my trip – while third place went to the Dughall Mor Douglas fir at Inverness (62.02 m). The fourth tallest tree was the supertall Douglas fir in my photograph, which was found to be 61.31 m tall. It is now the third tallest tree since the Blair Castle tree came a cropper in 2010 (which I’ll cover in the next post!), assuming no other reshuffling of the champs, which are raising the bar all the time.
The tallest Douglas firs in the world are found in their native range in North America. They are about the 100-metre mark! The only other species of tree with individuals taller than 100 m is Sequoia sempervirens - the California or coast redwood. The world’s tallest known living organism is a coast redwood called Hyperion – it was discovered in 2006 and has been measured at a whopping 115.6 m (379.3)!
The Black Linn Falls – seen under the bridge in the first photo - were fair roaring. I remember my mate telling me he’d seen salmon leaping up the falls before. I was well jel!
After crossing the bridge and checking out Ossian’s Hall and Ossian’s Cave we walked upstream...
We crossed back over the Braan at the Rumbling Bridge, where there are more falls, and looped back to where we started, on the way passing these mushrooms sprouting from a heavily decayed birch. Then back to Dunkeld for dinner in the Atholl Arms Hotel!
Posted on September 21, 2010 by Ash
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!
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