5 posts tagged with

Tilia - the limes

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Tall trees at Diana’s Grove, Blair Castle (with a note on Britain’s tallest trees)

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.

In May 2008 I arrived at Blair Atholl station with a couple of friends from university. We’d caught the train from Edinburgh and were just setting off on five days of walking and camping, going to Aviemore via the Minigaig Pass, the Linn of Dee, Loch Etchachan, Loch Avon, and Glenmore. From the station we walked up past Blair Castle and entered a small wood called Diana’s Grove. An information board by the gate got me pretty excited. Under the heading ‘Some Notable Trees’, it listed ‘Tallest Japanese Larch in Great Britain’, ‘5th tallest Douglas Fir in Great Britain’ and ‘Tallest Red Fir in Great Britain’! We had only just started our hike, so didn’t hang about, but I remember being impressed by a grove of very tall conifers.

Three and half a years later and I was back. The same information board tells how Diana’s Grove was set out in 1737 and takes its name from the statue of the Roman goddess of hunting that stands there; that it is renowned for its exotic conifers; that some of the first European larch (Larix decidua) to be grown in Britain were planted there in the 1730s by the second Duke of Atholl; and that the seventh Duke introduced Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) in 1884 and replanted much of the grove.

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).

On the right: No. 45 – a Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), now the tallest tree in Diana’s Grove. It measured 60 metres tall with a dbh of 131 cm in 2007 according to my Champion Trees, which lists the tallest Douglas fir in Britain as a 63.8 m tree with a dbh of 180 cm (measured in 2009) at Stronardron, Argyll.

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.

According to an information board there, the Mount Strange tree was grown from seed collected from the Grizzly Giant, the largest redwood growing in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park, California. The mound on which it grows was reshaped in 1884 to match the diameter of the trunk of the parent tree (according to Wikipedia the Grizzly Giant has a dbh of 780 cm these days!) - it initially commemorated “the 2nd Duke of Atholl taking his seat in parliament. He had recently inherited the title Barony of Strange through his paternal grandmother and went under this to parliament in 1737, the year in which Diana’s Grove was originally laid out.”

Of the red fir (Abies magnifica), which I don’t believe I could find, Champion Trees lists the Diana’s Grove tree as being 41 metres tall with a dbh of 163 cm in 2007 (and gives its date of planting as 1878). It is the red fir national champion for girth, but there is a taller red fir listed at Dunkeld House (43 m tall with a dbh of 127 cm when measured in 2007).

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.

The best trees in several stands of Douglas fir and grand fir in Snowdonia, planted by the Forestry Commission from 1919, passed 60 m around 2005 and seem likely, within a few more years, to provide all of our tallest trees.

…And that, I promise, was the last post from my November trip!

Posted in Holidays and field trips + Notable trees

Help! Are these oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)?

These mushrooms were growing from the trunk of a barely-alive lime (linden) tree (Tilia sp.) in a northern English city. I’m almost certain that they belong to the genus Pleurotus, but I am unsure of the species. I’m thinking Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, but I’m not confident. Does anybody out there recognise these? Please email me (the address is on the right) or leave a comment below!

Pleurotus ostreatus? Photos taken on the 17th of February.

Posted in Pests and diseases

Five favourite photos from 2008

We’re not yet a fortnight into the new year but I’ve already been casting an eye back over 2008, picking out my five favourite treeblog photos from the year that was. For a photograph to qualify for consideration, I must have taken it in the last year and subsequently featured it on this blog. Higher higher-res (1024px by 786px) copies can be found by clicking on the photos. In order of oldest first...

14th May 2008 The Aira Force money tree, with some of my eco-mates in the background. Back in May I stayed for four nights at the Whinfell Forest Center Parcs village with fifteen buddies, all of us finishing the final year of our ecological science degree at the University of Edinburgh. Mid-week, half of us headed into the Lake District to leave behind the Verruca Dome for a day. And what a beautiful summer day it was! Going along the shore of Ullswater, we spotted a car park and decided that there was no point in driving any further when we were already in such a perfect spot. And I’m so glad we did, because a short walk from the car park we discovered a piece of idyllic woodland complete with lovely stream – Aira Beck – an impressive waterfall – Aira Force – an unbelievably ginormous spruce, and this money tree. A perfect day, and it got even better back at our chalets with a roast dinner and plenty of beer pong.

27th July 2008 There was a spell of incredible weather at the end of July, just before I left Edinburgh behind and returned to Sheffield. I spent quite a bit of time at the Royal Botanic Garden, and on one of my visits I took this photograph of a common lime (Tilia x europaea) inflorescence. The common lime is a hybrid of the small- and broad-leaved limes (Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos respectively).

18th September 2008 I stayed over in my friends’ flat the night before I took this photo. They live in the middle of Sheffield, and in the morning I caught a train to Hope. I then spent a brilliant late summer’s day walking home through the Peak District. I crossed over the River Derwent at Slippery Stones using the 17th century packhorse bridge there. The bridge originally stood further downstream, but if it remained in that location today it would now lie beneath the waters of Ladybower Reservoir. When the reservoir was under construction in the first half of the 20th century, this old bridge was carefully dismantled stone by stone, with the position of each recorded, then reconstructed at its present location. This lonely birch stands just a little further along the path, at the bottom of Cranberry Clough.

26th September 2008 A pearl-studded puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum). It’ll not be long before I plant treeblog’s next set of seedlings – birch, rowan, and sweet chestnut. Near the end of September I went on a mish to collect rowan berries and birch seeds – probably downy birch (Betula pubescens), possibly silver birch (Betula pendula): I sometimes cannot make up my mind with these tricky trees. There were a fair few pearl-studded puffballs under my big birch of choice and I was glad to see they were all in tip-top condition. The only time before I’d seen these things – down in Thetford the previous February – they had been old and dry and liable to shoot out a puff of spores if you stepped on one. And you wouldn’t want a lungful of those; Lycoperdon perlatum spores have microscopic spines and will severely irritate lungs if inhaled in sufficient quantity – lycoperdonosis.

6th December 2008 Deadwood at twilight (probably larch or pine), taken within a kilometre of the above photo but later in the day and year. I took a walk with my father in the chilly late-afternoon-turning-evening through my favourite hunting ground and we found ourselves at this picturesque spot with a bright moon and a clear sky. We both took a lot of photos (I can remember how cold my hands got); of mine, this is my favourite.


And if you didn’t catch ‘em, I also picked my five faves of 2007 just before Christmas. Just sayin’.

Posted in Miscellany

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (27th July 2008) Part 2: Assorted photographs

common lime inflorescence

Inflorescence on a common lime a.k.a. European linden (Tilia x europaea). The common lime is a hybrid of the small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) and the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos).

cider gum

A cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) tree!

ribbon gum and cider gum

Two eucalypts in front of one of the glasshouses: another cider gum on the right, and in the background a ribbon gum a.k.a. manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis).

cider gum foliage and seed pods

Cider gum foliage and seed pods. These are the ‘mature form’ leaves, as opposed to the ‘juvenile form’ leaves currently seen on treeblog’s own cider gums.

a grove of six giant sequoias

A grove of six giant sequoias a.k.a. Sierra redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). The largest tree in the world, General Sherman, is a giant sequoia.

large sweet chestnut tree

This sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) tree has a massive trunk, which splits into three huge boughs.

looking up a large sweet chestnut bough

Looking up one of the huge boughs. I saw three different sweet chestnuts in the Garden and all were of massive girth. I bet they are easily some of the biggest trees in the collection.

sweet chestnut male flowers and developing cupules

Male sweet chestnut catkins in full bloom. The bright green spiny female parts will develop into the distinctive spiky cupules which each usually contain three chestnuts.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Form: beech, horse chestnut, lime and willow

Look here. I've dug out some photos taken last year on February the 3rd. It was a lovely day with a beautiful clear sky. And some of the leafless trees in the Grange area of Edinburgh looked stunning against the wide blue yonder.

European beech

European beech (Fagus sylvatica). Smooth silver bark and fine, delicate branches.

horse chestnut

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastaneum). Thicker twigs than beech. Notice how the branches droop downwards but have recurved tips.


Lime (Tilia) - whether common, small- or large-leaved I do not know. Notice the dichotomy in size between the main branches and the finer twigs.


Willow (Salix) - I think. I can't remember, but it sure looks like willow.

Posted in Miscellany

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