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treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 369): the rowans

Whitwell Moor rowan No. 1 (W1).

Well, it’s not the most fun job in the world, but someone’s got to do it. It’s a labour of love. It’s another treeblog Set C(r) update (photos taken this afternoon – Day 369).

Happily the Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia), last paraded before the world five weeks ago, are all healthy and vigorous. They’ve all got their first true leaf and the majority are showing off their second. Their progress is a pleasure to behold!

Rowans W2 to W5.

Rowans W6 to W9.

Rowans W10 to W13.

Rowans W14 to W17.

Rowans W18 to W20 and Upper Midhope rowan No. 2 (U2).

Rowan U1.

Rowans U3 to U6.

Rowans U7 to U10.

Rowans U11 to U14.

Rowans U15 to U18.

Rowans U19 and U20 and Whitwell Moor tricot rowans Nos. 1 and 2 (WT1 and WT2).

Rowans WT3 to WT6. The sixth tricot is still in the seed tray with all its feral brethren, awaiting transplantation.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set C(r) rowans transplanted. Six rowan tricots. Set D rowans planted. The fate of the Set D beeches and sweet chestnuts.

The transplanted Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) yesterday, minus the tricots.

Yesterday was a busy day for treeblog

1. Set C(r) rowans transplanted

(Set C(r), Day 334) I transplanted forty of the Set C(r) rowan seedlings - U1 to U20 (the progeny of the Upper Midhope rowan) and W1 to W20 (the progeny of the Whitwell Moor rowan) - from the unordered, overcrowded seed tray to a regimented ‘plug’ tray, where each seedling gets its own little space to breathe. There they all are in the photo above, happy as Larry.

The first five Upper Midhope rowan seedlings, U1 to U5, en route to the plug tray.

The plug tray as a bird would see it. May they live long and prosper.

2. Six rowan tricots

Set C(r) has produced six tricots so far! They are all progeny of the Whitwell Moor rowan. The sixth one I only discovered today, but the other five were transplanted into a plug tray just like their cohorts. I’ve labelled them as ‘WTn’, where WT stands for Whitwell Moor tricot. This is an exciting development for treeblog! I’ve previously found two tricot sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings; both died. I’ve also grown a tricot downy birch seedling (Betula pendula) in Set C; I lost it. Not a good track record then, but how can I lose with six rowan tricots?

The first five tricots, WT1 to WT5, en route to their plug tray.

A closer look at WT1…

…and WT2 and WT3 and WT4 and WT5. Marvellous.

3. Set D rowans planted

I collected more rowan berries last September, again from the Whitwell Moor tree, but also from a gigantic, ancient, collapsed rowan growing up on the moors near a tiny valley going by the name of Oaken Clough. Once I’d extracted the seeds from the berries, I pretreated them over the winter before planting them yesterday - (Set D(r), Day 0). I planned to use three different methods of pretreatment, outlined in this post from October, but I ended up only following one of the methods accurately: the easy one, where all you do is bung your seeds in a pot of soil and leave them outside over the winter.

So yesterday I gathered up all of the Set D rowan seeds to check for any germination. Sure enough, several of the seeds pretreated the easy way had germinated. I planted them into the same plug tray as the Set C(r) tricots. After a couple of casualties injured when extracting the germinated seedlings from the pretreatment plant pot, there remained nine Oaken Clough seedlings and twenty-two Whitwell Moor seedlings. I planted all of the ungerminated seeds in a couple of seed trays.

The germinated Oaken Clough seedlings, freshly removed from the pretreatment plant pot and ready for planting.

4. The fate of the Set D beeches and sweet chestnuts

(Set D(b), Day 193 / Set D(c), Day 183) I had a feeling that none of the beechnuts I planted in September or the sweet chestnuts I planted in October were going to germinate, so I went on a major rummage. I emptied fifty percent of the sweet chestnut seed trays (actually plug trays – to make room for the rowans!) and found that fully one hundred percent of the chestnuts were dead. I have yet to check the remaining half, but I am resolutely pessimistic with regards to the outcome.

I also rummaged through both of the beech seed trays – one containing standard European beech (Fagus sylvatica) nuts, the other containing cut- or fern-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Aspleniifolia’) nuts – and this is what I found:

F1: one germinating cut-leaved beech nut. Yes!!!
F2: a second germinating cut-leaved beech nut, trapped inside its rock-hard cupule. How the hell is it ever going to get out of there?
W1: how’s this for a total tragedy. Out of the all the standard beechnuts I planted, only one germinated and I bloody accidentally snapped its root off when I was looking through the seed tray. How crushingly depressing is that? I feel really, really terrible about it. What an idiotic mistake to make.

These three germinated beechnuts I planted in pots. The damaged beech will just shrivel and die; it has expended all of its energy on a root that is now not there. The cut-leaved beech trapped in the cupule will probably die from being unable to escape its prison. Now all of treeblog’s beech hopes and dreams rest on the shoulders of one cut-leaved beech. No pressure or anything.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set C: the story so far (Days 50 to 59) & a tricotyledonous birch

Birches Nos. 29, 32, 46 and 53 this afternoon (Day 59).

Exciting tidings! One of the birch seedlings has turned out to be a tricot! Birch No. 29 (in the above photo) has three cotyledons, not the normal amount of two. I have previously found two tricotyledonous seedlings (both sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus): one near Edinburgh in spring 2005 and another in the Ewden Valley in spring 2007. The first one died a couple of days after I collected it because I had nowhere to plant it as I was staying away from home. The second one (which appeared on treeblog back in the day) died mysteriously a month or so after I collected it. That was a bit upsetting so I hope it’ll be third time lucky with my birch tricot, the first one I have seen.

Set C: the story so far… (contd)
I was away from Monday to Friday so news from Days 54 to 58 comes courtesy of my father.

Day 50 / 30th Apr. ‘09 - Birches Nos. 25 and 26 appear; also the first non-birch germinations - two seedlings in sweet chestnut territory. These look so much like the birch seedlings, however, that I wonder if they’ve sprouted from self-sown birch seed.

Day 51 / 1st May ‘09 - Thirteen more birches (Nos. 27 to 39), as well as a third seedling in the sweet chestnut zone.

Day 52 / 2nd May ‘09 - A further eight birches (Nos. 40 to 47).

Day 53 / 3rd May ‘09 - Another two birch seedlings (Nos. 48 and 49).

Day 54 / 4th May ‘09 - Birch No. 50.

Day 55 / 5th May ‘09 - Birch No. 51.

Day 56 / 6th May ‘09 - Four more birches (Nos. 52 to 55) and a fourth “sweet chestnut” seedling.

Day 57 / 7th May ‘09 - Another five birches (Nos. 56 to 60).

Day 58 / 8th May ‘09 - At least seven more birches (unflagged) and the first seedling in the ‘Whitwell Moor’ rowan tray. It also looks just like a birch seedling.

Day 59 / 9th May ‘09 - The first seedling in the ‘Upper Midhope’ rowan section; this one actually differs from the birches. But is it a rowan or a self-seeded weed? Only time will tell. On the birch front, I don’t have any exact figures, but there were a lot of unflagged new seedlings in the tray today. The total number of birches must be close to a hundred now, and with so many of them growing close together, and new ones popping up at the base of existing flag-poles, it’s become impossible to keep track of them all. That’s why there hasn’t been any new flags for two days now.

Tomorrow I plan on doing a bit of treeblog work. I want to transplant as many as possible of the earlier-germinating birches into pots to free up some room in the seed tray. I also want to exhume the rowan berries, strip out and clean all of the seeds, then replant them. The Scots pines and most (if not all) of the cider gums would benefit from being repotted, as would the post-Set A unknown seedling (PSAUS). The alders could also do with new pots, but they’d have to be pretty big!

In case you were wondering, this is what a birch (either Betula pendula or Betula pubescens) looks like when it is a few years old. This one was found growing in the garden a couple of years ago by my father.

Any idea what these are? I found a few of them lying on top of the soil in the Set C seed trays today. At first I thought I was seeing some new kind of seedling because of their similarity to a pair of unopened cotyledons, but I was wrong. They also look a bit like anthers, so perhaps they have blown in off some flowering plant. Then again, they don’t appear to have any pollen on them. Another treeblog mystery!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Tricotyledonous sycamore: first true leaves

Below is a photo of my tricotyledonous sycamore (taken by my father on Saturday), 23 days after I discovered it. Its first true leaves are now developing, and I am glad to see that there are three of them. As the tree develops, growth (branches, leaves and so on) will be trifurcate (in threes), as opposed to normal dichotomous (in twos) growth. Basically, this tricotyledonous sycamore is to a normal dicotyledonous sycamore what a four-leafed clover is to a normal three-leaved clover (Trifolium repens). I am interested to see whether or not its offspring will be tricotyledonous, although it's going to be quite a wait to find out.

tricotyledonous sycamore seedling with first true leaves – 28th April 2007

Posted in Miscellany

Tricotyledonous sycamore!

Aaah, the humble cotyledon. The Oxford Dictionary of Biology defines ‘cotyledon’ thus:

A part of the embryo in a seed plant. The number of cotyledons is an important feature in classifying plants. Among the flowering plants, the class known as Monocotyledoneae have a single cotyledon and Dicotyledoneae have two. Conifers have either two cotyledons, as in Taxus (yews), or five to ten, as in Pinus (pines). In seeds without an endosperm [*], e.g. garden pea and broad bean, the cotyledons store food, which is used in germination. In seeds showing epigeal germination e.g. runner bean, they emerge above the soil surface and become the first photosynthetic leaves.

[* The endosperm is a nutritive tissue that surrounds the developing embryo in a seed.]

The sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is a non-native yet extremely common tree in Britain. It is dicotyledonous and undergoes epigeal germination.

Out walking on the 5th of April, I spied a sycamore seedling with three cotyledons. An amazing mutant tricot! This is the second time I have seen one of these; the first was on a field trip in spring 2005. Back then I was amazed by my lucky find. Although I took it home with me, it rapidly perished due to a long day in the field with no suitable way to preserve it. Back to the 5th of April… This particular day I was walking down a country lane with my friend, and noticing all of the newly germinated seedlings in the edge of the road, I was reminded of my encounter with the tricot. From time to time I would glance into the edge looking for another – and as luck would have it, I found one! I wasn’t taking any chances with this one, so I left it in situ, returning later in the day to collect it. Behold!

mutant sycamore seedling with three cotyledons – 7th April 2007

mutant sycamore seedling with three cotyledons – 7th April 2007

Posted in Miscellany

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