Sunday, 10 September 2017

Tremendous Trees

I've been planning to do today's post for months and this week I finally decided it was time. Yesterday I did my usual walk around my patch and tried to photograph as many different species of tree that I could find. I discounted trees in gardens, only counting 'wild' trees that haven't been obviously planted by humans (though it's likely some probably were).

My first find were some pine trees. Though there are large pine forests on the Western side of the town there are very few pine trees within the town itself. I think these trees are probably black pines which is the non-native species. In the Spring lots of rooks nest in this row of trees and you can hear them cawing away when you walk past. 

This was perhaps the easiest tree to identify, an English Oak. I'm pleased to say there are a lot of oaks in my area and this was by far the most common large tree I saw on my walk. This is fantastic for wildlife as oaks support more life form than any other native trees including hundreds of insects as well as plenty of birds and even a few mammals with they fallen acorns.

This is a silver birch, named after it's very pale bark. These trees can be used to improve soil quality- their deep roots bring inaccessible nutrients into the tree which are recycled onto the surface of the soil when the leaves are shed. These trees also support many insects- they attract aphids which are food for ladybirds and are a food plants for many species of moth caterpillar.

Mainly from the leaf shape I think this is a lime tree, probably a common lime. Similarly to the silver birch, these trees attract aphids and moth caterpillars. I found these trees very close together so it's likely this area is good for moths. 

The leaves and berries make this a quick one to identify- it's a rowan. These berries are a rich source of food for birds in the autumn, particularly members of the thrush family. Birds are the main way this tree disperses it's seeds- the seeds themselves pass through the bird and are excreted in a different location, potentially a long way from the tree.

This is one of my favorite trees, mainly due to childhood memories of collecting conkers- it's a horse chestnut. Apparently it's not actually a native species and was introduced to the UK from Turkey in the late 16th century. Horse chestnuts are a rich source of nectar when they are in flower and the leaves support triangle moth caterpillars, one of the blue tit's favorite foods.

This is an ash tree- they have very distinctive leave structures. Ash's are the third most common tree in Britain though of course they are being affected by ash dieback disease. Incredibly, the leaves can move in the direction of sunlight and sometimes the whole crown of the tree will lean in the direction of the sun. 

This is buddleia- I'm not sure it's usually classified as a tree but it certainly has a woody stem. Since being introduced in the 1880s buddleia is now classified as an invasive species- it grows all over the UK's railway network (indeed, this plant is situated on a former railway line) and causes lots of damage to buildings and structures. But it is good for wildlife, providing a source of nectar and is a favorite of butterflies. 

A really obvious one this, holly. It's berries make it popular with birds and small mammals who are not put off by the spiky leaves. If you see a holly tree take a look at the highest leaves and you will notice most aren't spiky. The spikes have evolved to protect the berries from large mammals who can't reach the tops of the trees. To save energy, the holly tree grows simpler leaves at the top.

This is just a small portion of the local trees but it was an interesting exercise to look closely at things I look at constantly. 

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